Monthly Archives: July 2011

In praise of idleness

Today at Dark Central Station I remember those long summer afternoons of childhood when I could spend hours doing absolutely nothing. And I announce my contribution to the Dark Central Summer Vacation prize pack. Come on over and see what you could win!

Dark Central Summer Vacation

This week my group blog, Dark Central Station, is celebrating summer vacation. All week we’ll be posting on summer-related topics. Even better, we’ll be giving away a terrific prize pack crammed with great beach reads, summer gear, swag, and a few surprises. Each day, a DCSer will announce what he or she is contributing to the prize pack—and one winner gets the whole thing.

To see what “authors who play with dead things” think about summer—and, more importantly, to find out how you might win—visit DCS all this week. Contest details are here.

Have fun, good luck, and stay cool!

Ebook sales, part 2

After yesterday’s post, I was asked what I’d done to promote Peace, Love, and Murder that might account for its steady, month-to-month increase in sales. The answer is not a whole lot—especially when compared to the effort I make to promote the Deadtown books.

Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve done to promote PLM:

  • In April, when I released the ebook edition, I gave away 20 copies on Library Thing.
  • At that time, I also contacted about a dozen book bloggers who focus on ebooks and review mysteries.
  • In May, I dropped the price to 99 cents and mentioned it here and on social networking sites.
  • Earlier this month, I did an interview and giveaway at one of the blogs that had reviewed the book.
  • I bought an Ebook of the Day sponsorship at Kindle Nation, which ran yesterday.
  • I bought a sponsorship at the Frugal eReader (another great site for discovering inexpensive ebooks), which will run next month. I’ll be doing a giveaway on the same site in October.

I think it also helped that Amazon linked the Kindle edition to the hardcover edition published in 2009. Reviews carried over, so the ebook edition didn’t start off with a blank page in that regard.

Price obviously makes a difference. Sales picked up when I dropped the price to 99 cents. At that price, a book is an impulse buy. Do people read their impulse purchases? Some do; some don’t. I have stacks of books that I picked up at Ithaca’s huge spring and fall book sales that I haven’t yet read. It’s the same thing.

Amazon pays self-publishers a 70% royalty for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. For any price outside that range, Amazon pays 35%. That means I could make slightly more selling 10 copies a day at $2.99 than I make at my current average of 50 a day for 99 cents.

So why don’t I raise the price? Visibility. A higher sales volume means that PLM sometimes gets onto the Top 100 genre lists. Yesterday, for example, it reached 78 on the Top 100 Mystery list. Getting onto those lists increases visibility, and the book starts to show up as a suggestion on other books’ pages (in the “People who bought X also bought Y” section, for example). At a higher price, I could do better with far fewer sales. But the book would also lose its sales rank standing and become harder for people to find. I think I’d lose sales due to both the higher price and the loss of visibility.

Besides, mostly I’m hoping that people will buy and read the book. Each sale is 35 cents I wouldn’t have made if the book were only being sold as a $26 hardcover.  I always intended PLM to be the first book in a series. Releasing it as an inexpensive (okay, dirt cheap) ebook means more people will discover and start the series and want to find out what happens next. That’s my hope, anyway!

Peace, Love, and Murder; Kindle Nation; and ebook sales

If you own a Kindle and you don’t know about Kindle Nation Daily, you’re missing out. The site keeps you informed about free and inexpensive Kindle books, offers Kindle tips, and shares the latest Kindle news. It’s a great way to learn about bargains and new books.

Today my mystery, Peace, Love, and Murder, is Ebook of the Day on Kindle Nation and its sister sites Book Gorilla and I’m hoping my sponsorship will make the book visible to readers who wouldn’t hear about it otherwise. PLM is a fun mystery with quirky characters, both action and humor, and just a smidgen of romance. For 99 cents, I hope people will find it worth a try.

Sales for the ebook edition of PLM have been growing steadily since I made it available as an ebook in April. For the first month, I priced the book at $2.99. In May, I dropped the price to 99 cents. I figured that readers would be more likely to take a chance at that price. Here’s how sales have grown in Amazon’s Kindle Store:

  • April: 14 books
  • May: 129 books
  • June: 588 books
  • July: Sales passed 1,000 yesterday, and I’m on track to sell at least 1,500 for the month

( PLM is also available online at B&N, Smashwords, the iBooks store, and other sites, but has only sold a few copies through those outlets.)

For each 99-cent ebook sold on Amazon, I earn just under 35 cents. So here’s another way to look at those numbers. When I first uploaded PLM as an ebook, I told myself that maybe I’d be able to earn enough to pay my phone bill each month. April missed that goal, but April and May combined hit it. In June, I earned enough to pay for my (high-deductible!) health insurance for the month. If July continues to average 50 books a day, I’ll earn enough to pay my phone bill, my health insurance bill, and the minimum plus a bit on my credit card. I’m a long way from paying off that credit card or from paying the mortgage based on PLM sales, but those sales are definitely helping with my finances.

Even better: I’m now planning to write the sequel to PLM. I’d started it back in 2008, but when Deadtown sold in a two-book contract, I shifted my attention and my energy to  urban fantasy. A number of people who’ve read PLM have asked about a sequel, and I’m really happy to be able to say I’ll be working on it in the fall. (I want to find out what happens next, too!)

Publishing is changing because how people read is changing. How they discover books is changing. What they expect to pay is changing. I don’t know where all this is headed. But count me among the writers who are pleased to be able to keep backlist titles alive as ebooks.

Agent interview at DCS

Publishing is changing faster than most of us can keep up with. So I asked my agent, Gina Paniettieri, for her thoughts on the direction of publishing, as well as a bunch of other questions. You can read the interview today at Dark Central Station.

Gina says a lot of smart and interesting things about the direction her agency is taking, how she works with clients, self-publishing, and the kinds of projects she’s looking for right now. Worth the read!

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