Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Too Many Authors Writing the Same Book

I love the internet and use it to research various topics. In fact, internet research allowed me to release my debut novel A Thousand Chances in 2009 without spending tens of thousands of dollars on a book release and distribution --although its still expensive to publish in print.

Internet research is how I found Lightning Source.

I quickly became discouraged when I didn't see the results that I wanted to see no matter how hard I tried to push A Thousand Chances, and didn't publish another book for 2 years for a number of reasons:

1) Cover design, ISBN numbers, editing, set-up fees and small print runs are still expensive for print, even with Lightning Source.

2) Its hard to get into bookstores, and the grind of hand selling your books in public is just as hard when you are gainfully employed.

3) I spent too much time trying to figure out how to sell more copies of A Thousand Chances, and not enough time writing.

4) I was too stubborn to publish my book on Kindle and probably missed out on a lot of sales.

Fast forward two years and I got back in touch with Teresa Patterson, who has gone on to become a Kindle Best Seller since the days of us trying to figure out how to put together her book Ex-Boyfriend. She told me that she was having success with Kindle, and that I should put A Thousand Chances, on Kindle. I reluctantly agreed to do so, but not before I wrote Bon Appetit first --in retrospect, it probably didn't make a difference one way or the other.

Now that I personally know a Kindle best-selling author who made a living selling Kindle ebooks, the shit had become realistic to me. I had to find out more about the process of putting together an ebook to publish on Kindle. So I started researching, and I ran across Joe Konrath's blog and found some inspiration there. Then I looked over various message boards, ebooks, etc. on how to publish a book on Kindle, then I read somewhere where Joe reminded me to do the most important thing that a writer can do --WRITE DAMMIT. Ah, thanks Joe! He reminded me that I was putting the cart ahead of the horse instead of --you get the picture!

So I wrote three books in the Jim Money series so far, and I'm working on #4 which will be published on Kindle in a few weeks once I have my editor cover my manuscript in red ink as she write the following in her comment bubbles:




Glenn, I need a drink to edit this maze of bad punctuation, misspelled words, etc.

Glenn, you are aware that you can take an English 101 course at your local community college to learn how to use correct punctuation, right?

In my second publishing journey, I've found the internet to be quite cumbersome and hurtful to many newbie writers. My advice to writers, don't spend too much time doing internet research on how to market your debut book to increase sales because even if you make 100,000 sales on a book at $.99, that's only $35,000 and I've been paying attention to the sales trends on Kindle for almost a year. I've seen so many top-selling novels sell 100,000 units in one month go down to less than 10 sales per day in a matter of weeks. Not even the best-written books stay high in the sales rankings forever, so if I made $35,000 on 100K in sales last month and only $350 on 1,000 sales this month, I'll be looking for a job at Target very soon --another reason why I can't afford to price all my books at 99 cent, and yes $2.99 - $4.99 are still a low prices, but that's another blog post for a different day. Warning: I will repeat myself here.

My advice to writers, don't spend too much time doing internet research on how to market your debut book to increase sales.

Not that any of it isn't valuable, but you'll find all the misinformation confusing just as I did. For instance, you have a large number of newbie authors who only have 1 or 2 books to their name seemingly frothing at the mouth to announce how the 99 cent price points and mass giveaways of their books are the only ways to market your books in this competitive ebook market. What ever happened to writing the best book you can and eliciting an "I enjoyed your book" reaction? That's all that really matters when you're an author. Sure, I can giveaway 100,000 copies of my ebook on Smashwords, but dammit my work is more valuable than a free T-Shirt giveaway on a college campus that will leave you with the temptation of racking up unnecessary credit card debt and a low-quality T-Shirt that will shrink four sizes once your prankster friends throw a water balloon on you. The difference between the credit card companies and most free giveaway authors is that the credit card company is going to make 10,000 times more than the cost of their T-Shirt, whereas the average free giveaway author has no idea on how he or she will capitalize on giving away their free ebook. In most cases, they're aimlessly giving away their work.

Another thing, dropping mass twitter bombs announcing how your book is only 99 cents, or free only adds to the clutter of spam tweets from the other authors on twitter and Facebook. Of course, you're advised to take such actions on the self-publishing blog sites, message boards, and in the ebooks. There are just too many marketing experts on the internet telling you how to become a Kindle best-seller by just using twitter and facebook. It gets to the point where the basis of writing novels gets lost in this massive sea of promotional gimmicks.

Is promotion and marketing important? Yes, but not in the way that you see it.

I will make some not-so-bold predictions.

Within the next year you will notice a lot of the authors that you followed on twitter will stop publishing books, even if they sold a lot on their first book. These folk are not going to be able to carry on the huge fanbases that they generated by selling 200,000 copies of their 99 cent best-seller. You will see some authors announcing that they're re-entering the workforce --which they left prematurely in my opinion.

Only John Locke will be able to make a ton of money pricing his books at 99 cents. The others will be applying for welfare benefits.

The marketing gimmickery advice will continue to rise as new self-published authors receive their golden horseshoe and experience short-term boost in sales, followed by a sharp decline in sales when it takes them a year to publish a second book that doesn't take off.

You will hear more affirmations that ebook publishing will turn into a Netflix subscription model. There are so many reasons why this will not happen for books. I'll just simply say that the publishing industry is different from the movie industry in the streams of revenue that's available to them. In order for the Netflix model to happen, the publishers would have to agree to license their catalog to a subscription based provider. Unless there are shifts in the industry, I don't see this happening for books as it would for movies.

The people who will make a good living writing fiction are the authors who treat this as a profession and build long-term relationships with bloggers, other authors, and their fans. A relationship cannot be built on a gimmick... only one-night stands are.

My advice to the newbie writers, ignore all the speculation of what's going to happen in the industry and just focus on becoming a better writer with each release.

With all that I've said, sometimes its better not to worry about sales, especially when you only have one book release to your name. Write a catalog of books

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