Friday, July 27, 2012

Tracking the Oiled Ferret (Sales)

With all this discussion about pricing and effects on sales, a sobering thought entered my befuddled brain. These are barely real-time statistics I am referencing for my conclusions.

Amazon and Smashwords are relatively on-time with their notifications of sales and how much that will put in my account. I recently received a nice little sum of money from both of them for sales in May and June. That was the end of the second quarter.

The next payments, no matter how many I sell, won't com until the end of October. I can still track sales for those two sites, but the long-term result is still a quarterly payment.

The real challenge will be tracking the sales for the Premium Distribution channel. All those web sites report sales roughly quarterly. My fancy little price change for testing won't yield any measurable results for those channels until October. That's a very long waiting game.

Advice to the other self-publishers out there - just be ready for a long game - this is not a quick one-handed poker challenge, it's a long yacht voyage around the world.

We'll table the discussion of where the book ranks in sales for another day.

The Paradigm Shift - eBook Pricing

I've seen many articles relating to how to price eBooks. I've had feedback on how The Adventures of Reztap eBook is priced ($4.99) where the paperback is $12.95. That is about a 62% discount - which seems to be in line with other pricing I've seen.

On the high side, there has been some discussion about $9.99 being the average price for a fiction eBook. I would venture that is also an average couple of more pages than my mdoest entry at 180 pages. Still, I don't think there are an average 360 pages to all those fiction eBooks, so the pricing still seems more than fair from that standpoint.

However, I have also seen articles and stories about pricing the eBook at $2.99. This is the minimum pricing at which the author can still get a 70% royalty on Amazon, so I think that is whre this bottom line pricing figure has emerged from. If you go below $2.99, your royalty drops to 35%. On Amazon, you can't price below $0.99. You can get free eBooks onto Amazon by offering them free elsewhere (like Smashwords) and Amazon finds out and "price matches" your eBook. But that's not a tried and true method; it's just what I've heard. If you enter the KDP Select program, that is a zero cost for your eBook for Prime members, while the author gets a piece of a $600,000 pie - really only about $2 per book checkout by the Prime member.

In the interest of testing, I'm going to drop my eBook to $2.99 on Amazon and Smashwords. This first book is all about discovering what works and what doesn't. It may take a while for the price change to filter out to the other platforms that get the digital eBook from Samashwords (Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Diesel, etc.) I will let you, my intrepid companions on this ePublishing adventure, know what the outcome of the price change is. Be warned, the price changes set may not take effect for a few days - I've already taken steps to change the prices - for instance, now the eBook is unavailable on Amazon until they review the eBook again, a process which could take up to 48 hours.

Other strategies include giving the first book in a series away free to drive sales of other books in the series. Unfortunately, the other books in my series have yet to be written/published, so it doesn't so much apply to me at this time. In a year, that will be a different story and a different blog post.

Happy Pricing!

You can download The Adventures of Reztap from Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes (look in iBooks on iPhone or iPad), Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Diesel.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

iTunes - Finally!

It is with great fanfare that I announce The Adventures of Reztap is finally available on iTunes! It was a long wait (longer than I aniticpated), but I'm happy it's finally there.

For those wondering exactly how long the wait was, here is the timeline of events for you to reference for your own eBook publishing adventures:

5/12/2012 - eBook first published to Smashwords. Immediately enrolled in Premium channel, but takes a while for approval.
5/30/2012 - Premium status approved. At this point, it is up to the distributors to pick up the electronic data to publish the eBook on their sites.
5/31/2012 - Kobo picks up the data from Smashwords.
6/2/2012 - Opted out of Amazon (Kindle & CreateSpace) since I would be publishing directly there.
6/5/2012 - Diesel picks up the data from Smashwords.
6/19/2012 - Baker & Taylor picks up the data from Smashwords.
6/21/2012 - Sony picks up the data from Smashwords.
7/13/2012 - Barnes and Noble picks up the data from Smashwords.
7/21/2012 - Apple picks up the data from Smashwords.

Every disributor listed here has a schedule for picking up data within a week of its availability on Smashwords - obviously the schedule is a very loose guideline to which they don't adhere very closely. The nice thing is it gives an approximation of when (AFTER picking up the data) you can expect to see the eBook available on the web site and they've been pretty accurate. While it took forever for iTunes to pick up the data for the eBook, it was finally available today (7/26/2012) less than the two weeks it said it might take.

So when distributing through Smashwords, you can anticipate (but not guarantee) that your work will be available with two months of enlisting in the Premium Distribution Channels.

I don't know how other aggregators work, but I look forward to hearing tales of your adventures here soon.

Happy iTuning,

Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Two Teaser - Sort of...

I began writing the sequel to The Adventures of Reztap. The new book will be titled Reztap and the Quest for the Insane Moth. If you've read the first book, the title makes sense. If you haven't, well it sure is a curiosity isn't it?

Onto the teaser as promised! I completed the outline for Reztap and the Quest for the Insane Moth a couple weeks ago. The outline has been marinating and cooking in my brain while I've been engaged in other pursuits that have nothing to do with writing. On a business trip this week, I finally delved into the world of Tar and Gorth again and completed chapter one and am just starting the writing of chapter two. What I have completed (via the outline) are the chapter headings for the book - some of these were quite interesting in the first book, and I tried to keep them that way for the second. So, you're only real preview of the book before I finish writing it and go through the edit process is presented below.

Chapter 1 – How’d that get there?
Chapter 2 – Moth Bawls
Chapter 3 – Why Rimtikians are so Pissy
Chapter 4 – Witless Protection
Chapter 5 – Hell Hath No Fury
Chapter 6 – The Unattainable Bargain
Chapter 7 – Between a Scarf and a Hard Place
Chapter 8 – Dilo the Traitor
Chapter 9 – No Place Like Home
Chapter 10 – Past Tense
Chapter 11 – That Rock is Hard to Swallow
Chapter 12 – Gorth Takes a Vacation
Chapter 13 – Nothing as Profitable as War
Chapter 14 – Mental Fatigue
Chapter 15 – Magnetic Personalities
Chapter 16 – Scarfing down the next Mission

Of course, only part of this makes any sense if you've read the first book and probably makes no sense whatsoever if you haven't. So get out there and read book one! Book two is on the way, I promise!

Slaving away in a digital graphite mine,

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Free - not so powerful

It was a limited test, but still a valid result. Offering the eBook for free did not equate to a flood of downloads of The Adventures of Reztap from the Smashwords web site. It did result in two downloads of the free eBook and an additional sale of the full price version. That means the eBook went from six readers to nine on Smashwords. I'm happy with the promotion - any additional readers is a great thing. But I'm certainly not blown away with the results. I think they are in line with a normal promotion of this type.

My take is that I need to expand the amount of people who see the book offer, think of the word Reztap when searching book web sites, and think of my name when they think of an author they'd like to read. Even with a few retweets from some folks on Twitter, and sharing the news on Facebook, I'm still reaching less than 2,000 people. There are hundreds of millions of people online. My next concentrations for social media will be expanding my reach so to speak.

My next focus on writing will be getting the second book written (it's already been started). Unfortunately, marketing and writing are two different activities. Do I abandon marketing on social media (and other types of activities) and concentrate solely on writing? I believe this is a dilemma facing many eBook and traditional authors today. Marketing is largely if not completely on our shoulders for 99% of us. Still, I'm pretty sure having a second book out there is a big draw to potential readers. It lets them know the author is not just a one book wonder.

So, while I will definitely be devoting some time to marketing, my primary focus will be on writing book two. I do have one event at the end of July where I'll be selling the books directly (ArmadilloCon in Austin), but outside of that, my marketing efforts will be limited for the time being.

Good luck with your marketing!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Now on Barnes and Noble - Nook & Paperback!

I admit to be a little shocked. The eBook Channel Manager on Smashwords does not show it has shipped to Barnes and Noble, yet The Adventures of Reztap is available on the Nook ( I do have an explanation, though. Smashwords shipped the eBook to Baker &Taylor, a provider of books & eBooks to libraries and commercial web sites - I can only imagine that is how it filtered out to and got listed for the Nook on Barnes and Noble.

The paperback ( is a real quandry. It's not only listed on Barnes and Noble's web site, but it's on sale! I really don't understand the mechanism at work here. I do have it listed at two other locations ( & as a paperback, perhaps that's all that's necessary to get it listed at Barnes and Noble. I can only assume there's some kind of wholesale thing going on so they can offer it at a 28% discount. Interesting.

So, those of you in the mood for a Nook copy or a sale on the paperback, Barnes and Noble is your place to go!

Fully disclosed and loving it,

First reviews are in (GoodReads)

Two winners of the paperback giveaway from the GoodReads web site submitted reviews of The Adventures of Reztap. Overall, the book receives an average 4.5 out of 5 stars. Really, not too bad if I do say so myself. Of course, it's only two reviews, so I'm not patting myself on the back too hard just yet. Add the positive reviews from the two authors I got blurbs from, and the verbal reviews I've gotten from other readers and MAYBE I give myself a little pat.

To see the GoodReads reviews for yourself, click here:

I will say that does validate the book giveaway - book reviews are a decent return on investment, regardless of if they are positive or negative. I will definitely do it again for the sequel. I may even do it again for the first book.

I would ask anyone who has purchased the book, either hardcopy or eBook, please return to the web site you bought it from and leave a book review. I'm looking for honest impressions, be they positive or negative. Let others know whether or not you feel it was worth your time and money.

Thank you for your support,

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Free Test (Limited Edition)

So here's the next test in celebration of my birthday - giving the eBook away for free for a day. Will this ultra-convenient price result in an onslaught of new readers or be a complete non-starter?

To get the eBook for free, you will have to download it from Smashwords and use the coupon code ZH97J at checkout. Here's the link to the Smashwords download:

Of course, I will update all of you with the results of this latest marketing effort. I have seen free giveaways as a means of creating a base readership or just generating some good word of mouth. Several authors appear to have done the same thing, as well as musicians and possibly some moviemakers.

Happy Free Day!

Friday, July 6, 2012

So Far, So Little

I'll admit, this is a very short test. Would it be more effective if it went longer? I don't think so. Luckily, both Twitter and Facebook give you the ability to see if things are retweeted or shared. You can't force someone to share or retweet; you can only ask nicely...which I did! Not much came of it.

So, from what I can gather so far, there is a very small amount of traction to be gained by exposing my followers of 300 or so people to a sale (or just an announcement of the book itself). Lessons learned? Price really isn't that much of a driving factor when it comes to getting the message out about your book or product - at least, not in a single day. Still to come in the product market testing - book reviews (and how many readers actually follow), blog "ads" (via - giveaways, interviews, excerpts - that type of thing), and the impact of multiple books in a series will also be considered. Of course, I have to write the sequels before I can consider that last one.

To market or to write, that is the question! In the short term, I will be doing a little more marketing research, but that will definitely wane by August, when I will put myself fully into the writing of the next book.

Before I close, the jury is still out on whether the book giveaway on Good Reads has been a win for the marketing column, or just a sunk cost. It may prove dividends in the long run, when more books come out and that may help build more word of mouth. I can certainly see where a single book may not garner as much attention as a series (Twilight, Hunger Games, Harry Potter seem to prove the long term marketing strategy works very well there.) I have found there are other similar book reader sites (Shelfari and Library Thing) which I will be checking out this weekend.

Happy Marketing! (yes, oxymoron, I know.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Little Excitement...

Trying to generate a little excitement in the blogosphere with a $1 sale: (It's an Independence Day sale - now through 7/7/2012 get The Adventures of Reztap eBook from Smashwords for just a buck! That's $1 using coupon code ML88M at checkout from on Facebook, Twitter and here. An audience of maybe 300...of which, how many will notice and pay attention? Will they spread the word?

The inevitable question comes to mind. Does this result in an increase in sales? Will anyone, in fact, actually buy the eBook for that price? It is a standard splashy gimmick that many eBook authors use, usually at the outset of their marketing campaign. I will, of course, keep you informed on whether or not this works or even generates any sales at all. The last week has been pretty dry from a sales standpoint. I also haven't been pushing it much. I have the iTunes launch to wait for and I'm anticipating doing a book promo at ArmadilloCon (not yet confirmed...hotel plus convention costs just squeezing the budget a wee bit much right now.)

Book giveaway results - shipped four books. Free books to readers across the globe (well 3 in the US and one in Great Britain). Haven't heard a thing from them. Nary a sale either. Sales, I'll be quite honest, don't concern as much at this point. But generating a little word of mouth, discussion, etc. THAT is what interests me. Haven't had that yet.

Book reviews are still to come this month. Haven't yet selected/found the reviewers, but that should happen this weekend/next week. Will that generate buzz? I'm not entirely sure how to measure how many people will even read a review once posted. Is there a page viewed count on these pages? So many questions - I will figure out the answers and let you know as soon as I find out!

Until then,