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Author Topic: Sell Loads of Books - My System Spelled Out  (Read 104299 times)  

Offline blakebooks

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Sell Loads of Books - My System Spelled Out
« on: May 07, 2013, 09:26:04 AM »
Over the last week, because of my burst of posts here, I've gotten a number of PMs from authors asking for counsel on one matter or another, so I thought I would take the time to lay out my thoughts so that the info is available to everyone. This doesn't represent the only way to do things, but it's my way, and is the synthesis of everything I've learned over the last 23 months of self-publishing.

By way of background, I write conspiracy-based action/adventure novels. I published my first novel on Amazon June, 2011. I published my 20th novel in April, 2013. My first month I sold about 7 books. In 2012, I sold 104K books. In 2013, from the start of the year to today, May 7, I have sold just shy of another 100K books, and look good to exceed 200K for the year by a decent margin. I lay this out there not to crow, but to establish why it might be worth considering my approach. So in no particular order, here's my counsel for selling a boatload of books:

1) Pick one genre that's popular and with which you are extremely familiar, and then write in that genre. Stick to it. Don't hop around. It confuses your potential readers and muddies who you are in their minds, and will hurt your sales. If you want to write different genres, use a pseudonym, and if you like, let your readers know that moniker is you. But stick to one name, one genre, because you're building your brand, and brand building is a function of clarity - clearly communicating what you do, and what your product is.

2) Write a series. Why? Because readers like series, and you want to give readers what they like. Or you won't sell as much. You can try stand-alone - I have - but my series outsell my stand-alone books 4 to 1. Once you have at least three books in the series, make the first one free. Make your money on the rest, but give readers a whole novel to decide whether they like you or not.

3) Write a lot. By that I mean try to write at least 3 novels a year. Don't bother with short stories or novellas (40K or under) if you're writing fiction (non-fiction might do better) unless it's romance, erotica, or your name is Hugh. If fiction, write 60-90K installments in your series, and release them AT MINIMUM every four months. Every three months would be better. Every two, better still. Momentum breeds success, and readers have short memories. The current market is a hungry animal, and you need to feed it, or risk being forgotten by the time your next one releases. Sorry. It's the truth. And don't start whining about how X famous author only puts out one book every Y years. If you're Dan Brown and you sell tens of millions of novels each whack, then do whatever the hell you like. If you aren't, listen up, or chock your strategy up to, "Become the next Dan Brown" and stop reading this drivel.

4) Read a lot. To write well, you need to read things that are well-written, and that serve to inspire you to greater heights or provide insight on how to improve your work in some way. You are what you eat. If you aren't reading a decent amount, start, because otherwise you're unlikely to write nearly as well as if you do.

5) Allocate time every day to write, and be disciplined. I suggest minimum one hour per day, or 1000 words. I actually ignore that and shoot for 5000-7000 a day when writing a novel, but that's just my approach, and it's not for everyone. My point is that you must be disciplined about your writing and develop that muscle. If you don't make it a habit, you won't write enough to put out one novel every four months, and you'll already be way behind the curve.

6) Allocate time every day to market. I recommend a 75%/25% writing to marketing mix. So spend an hour writing every day, and fifteen-twenty minutes marketing (social media, blogging, interviews, message boards like this). Two hours writing, half hour o forty minutes marketing. And so on.

7) Stay off the internet when you're writing. Set aside the writing time, and do only that. Leave placeholders for stuff you need to research later (XXX city is Y distance from ZZZ city, etc.). Stopping your writing to research breaks your momentum. Don't do it. Checking your e-mail, checking in with your facebook group, reading a tweet - none of these are going to write your book for you, so stop it already.

8.) Get professional help. Do pro covers. It's the first thing your potential readers will see. Put out something amateurish, and they will go to something that looks worthy of their time, and it won't be you. Get pro editing. You are asking people to pay for your product. They won't, and shouldn't, if you haven't ensured it is a pro product, which means it must be edited and proofread. If you're too cheap or too broke to pay an editor, barter something of value to get someone qualified to do it, or (gasp, here's an idea) save some money so you can do it right. Skip these steps and you won't sell much, if anything. Or if you do, it won't last very long, because word will spread, and then you're dead.

9) Make sure your product description rocks, is short and compelling, and sucks the reader in. After your cover, the product description has to sell the book. Don't give too much info, don't spell out the plot like it's a test. Give the high points that will interest a reader in knowing more. And make sure it's coherent and there are no typos or bad grammar, as that will kill most of your sales out of the gate.

10) Now for the actual book. You have five pages to hook the reader. The first five. Make those amazing pages that demand the reader continues.

11) Know your audience. You do that by reading a fair amount in the genre, and by looking at the reviews of your competitors/the bestsellers in your genre. If you're writing for a genre that's 90% cat ladies, you need to know that going in. If mostly older males, know that too. Teen girls, ditto. Whatever your audience, figure it out before you start writing. Do a little research. It will pay dividends later.

12) Brand yourself as the go-to author in that genre. Become synonymous with your genre. Define it, if possible. Even better would be where your name is shorthand for the genre in your readers' minds. As an example, Dan Brown is synonymous with a genre Umberto Eco pioneered with Foucault's Pendulum - the theology-based conspiracy treasure hunt. Nowadays, when readers try to articulate that, they say "it's a Dan Brown kind of book." You should live so long, but make that your goal.

13) Price competitively and intelligently. Look at your genre. Where are most books priced? Are you undervaluing/underpricing your work? Price to sell, but don't go cheap, no matter what Locke or Hocking did years ago. Use low prices occasionally to move product, as promotional pricing. But price your product consistently with the rest of your peers. Over time, you can increase prices, if your product warrants it and your readership is willing to pay it. My advice here is don't price too low, or too high. Obviously, if you are racing up the charts at $3.99 and believe that moving to .99 will get you into the winner's circle, go for it, but that's rare. Price intelligently, and constantly play around with. By way of example, I tried $2.99 and $3.99, and then $4.99, and my sales were basically the same. So my readers are willing to pay up to $5 with no issues. My new releases are always $5.99. I do that because I want to brand myself as a quality read, and also because that's still a bargain compared to my trad pub peers. I'm nosebleed level for indies, but I've only been pricing there with success this year. All last year, $4.99 was the ceiling. Something shifted, probably due to my introduction of the JET series in October, and I haven't seen any fade at $5.99 vs. $4.99, so I price at what I consider to be reasonable for my work. The point is not to gouge, but rather to deliver good value, whatever the price is. But my genre is different than yours (probably) and it took a while to get there. I mention this not so you price however I do, but rather so that you see that pricing isn't static, nor engraved in stone.

14) When writing, write as a craftsman/artist, and strive to improve every day. Force yourself to constantly up your game. Make your early work look like crap compared to what you're writing now.

15) It's okay to go back and rewrite your early work once you've evolved past it. I've rewritten probably half my novels by now. I will continue to do so. As I get better, I want all my work to get better.

16) There is no such thing as "not my best work." Imagine that every book you write is the only one anyone is ever going to read, and they must make a decision to read the rest of your backlist or not, based only on that one book. Or imagine that a big 5 trad publisher is considering doling out a seven figure advance, and will only read one book, and it is your weakest. Ensure even your weakest is as good as you can write, because if not, you're screwing your most important resource: your reader.

17) When finished writing, put on your business hat. This means that when done with your artistic work (writing), you are now a book seller. Your business is selling books, not being an author, at the point you ask someone to buy your books; to part with their money in exchange for the product you created. As a business person in a commercial enterprise, you need to be dispassionate and make smart business decisions, or you will fail. Book selling is a highly competitive business, and you are up against people who work tirelessly at it. If that's daunting or gives you pause, you might want to reconsider whether this is a business you want to be in. In the book selling business, saccharine bromides of "just go for it" and "follow your dream" are about as useful as a bowling ball to a fish. Writing is art and self-expression, something beautiful and intensely personal. Book selling is a commercial enterprise. Confuse the two, and you hurt any chances you have of success, if success to you means selling a bunch of books.

18) Businesses require investment. All businesses, whatever the industry. Nobody with a brain goes into business with no money, no research, no plan, and no time or effort. Expect to spend some money on product development (cover, editing). Expect to spend either money or effort on marketing (preferably both). If you don't have the money to properly edit your work or get a pro cover, you aren't ready to be in business. Save some. Then try. Or borrow some from investors (which would be an eye opener, because most would want to see a business plan, which would force you to actually think all aspects of your new business through). Alternatively, become a graphic design/book cover whiz people would gladly pay $200-$500 to design their covers, do it for about a decade, and then do your own cover. Or spend 20 years editing, and then try your hand at editing your own work, going over it at least three times. If you don't have 20 years of germane acumen, you probably aren't qualified to edit your, or anyone else's, work, so you need to hire professional talent. If you don't, you aren't investing in your business, and you're radically reducing your chances of success. Not too many businesses that have no budget or acumen succeed. That's the harsh truth. If you believe this one is different, knock yourself out and let me know how that goes. Until then, my counsel stands. Treat this like a business, not a dream of winning the lottery.

19) Have realistic goals. Look at what the average person does in their first year, and their second. That's average. It ain't pretty. If you want to be different than average in a good way, you need to do something better/different, and you need to make your own luck. Don't get bummed because you haven't been an overnight sensation. I sold $300 of novels in November, 2011, after six months of 15 hour days and seven releases. In December, 2011, I released five novels I'd been working on for months, to create a massive Xmas surge. I leaped to $1450. With a dozen books out. That's not exactly a ton for the big Xmas season. But I continued writing as though my work was in hot demand. And I kept investing in my product, losing money, until it turned the corner and I started making real money in Jan of 2012.

20) Book selling is a retail business, and retail businesses are promotions intense. You're only going to be as good as your last, and next, promotion. Promotions are a necessary fact of life in retail. You have to generate noise - the product won't do it by itself. There are millions of books out there. Yours are just more books. Figure out how to get some visibility. I won't advise you on how - there are plenty of 'experts' that will charge you $5 for a book on what worked two years ago. Simply put, it's constantly changing, so you need to experiment and push the envelope, share information with others and stay ahead of the curve. But if you aren't promoting, you're stalling. In business you're either shrinking, or growing. If you aren't promoting, chances are you aren't growing.

21) Assess what will be required to make it (and define what make it means to you in a coherent, attainable way), and then decide whether you are willing to do it. That doesn't mean figure out what you can comfortably do, or think is reasonable. It means evaluate what it will likely take to get where you want to go, and then calculate what it will cost - in time, effort, money. If you can't afford whatever that is, then you either need to scale back our goal, or you need to increase what you're willing to invest of yourself and your resources. Hoping you make it while putting in 30% of what you estimate will truly be required is delusion. It's like hoping you live to be 100 while smoking two packs a day, never exercising and being 50 pounds overweight. It could happen, but the odds say, not so much. This is called getting real with yourself. Lie to everyone else if you must. Don't lie to yourself. Life's too short, and you're the best friend you've got. Oh, and BTW, if you think the secret to operating a successful book selling business is to just write and hope people discover your products, your strategy amounts to, "Once upon a time." Not in the real world. I mean, anything's theoretically possible, but so is marrying a billionaire. Don't make that your business strategy. It's a non-strategy.

21a) Decide whether making it is worth the cost. See #21. Now that you know what it will realistically take just to have a shot at the brass ring (whatever that is to you), determine whether it's worth it. If not, do some soul searching and come up with a better objective for yourself - one that won't make you miserable and unhappy. Ideally, writing should make you happy, and should be its own reward. If you decide to start a self-publishing business to sell books, that's a commercial enterprise, and most commercial enterprises exist to sell things, not for self-actualization. If you can be happy and sell lots of stuff, so much the better. But the first goal of any commercial enterprise is to sell products, not to coddle the owner and make him/her feel warm and fuzzy. The business world is competitive. The book publishing business is one of the most competitive I've ever seen, and I've seen a few. It will take extraordinary luck, effort, commitment and drive to make it, even at a nominal level, much less a big level. If you are only able or willing to invest part time effort into it, don't expect more than what you might make at a part time job. If that. Even if you are willing to go full time and give it your all, it is still no guarantee. Sorry. Know that going in. Don't mean to be Mr. Buzzkill, but better you know the truth and look it squarely in the eye up front, than figure it out over time. And folks? If you're an outlier and put in 4 hours a week and are making five grand a month, hat's off to you. Take a picture. Write a how-to book.

22) Be true to yourself. Don't try to act. Don't create a personality that is what you think others might like. Be yourself all the time. People can smell insincerity. If you suck, that's okay. Could be there are plenty of others who also suck, and might enjoy hanging out with someone who sucks. Maybe even buy your books.

23) Pay attention to what works, and what doesn't. This is so obvious, and yet is so often overlooked. Everyone is going to have an opinion of what you should do, and how. Most of those won't have been successful at what they are advising you on. That doesn't mean they're wrong, but it does mean you should be skeptical of all claims, and use your head. And pay attention. If the market is telling you that your books are poorly written, then you need to either improve them, or get used to being punched in the face by reviewers for wasting their time. If it's telling you that your editing sucks, figure it out (and you have obviously not paid much attention to this little diatribe) and fix it. Ditto for your covers. And your blurb. And your marketing efforts. Pay attention. Modify your approach. Model those who are doing what you want to do. Model success.

24) Don't try to be all things to all people. When you write, or when you brand and market. Be whoever you actually are when you write, and then brand and market what you are so those interested in what you are know you have what they want. Be clear at all times. Your job as a writer is to tell your story clearly, in your unique manner, as evocatively as you deem fit. Your job once you brand and market yourself is to honestly tout your product, and its strengths. Don't try to please everyone or you're likely to please nobody.

25) Nobody has ever heard of you. That's cause for celebration. Even I, who sell a decent amount now, am unknown to 99% of my target readership. That's a huge amount I can grow. It's good news. How I go about changing that is contained in the prior 24 points. Every day I ask myself, "What can I do, TODAY, to increase my discoverability for my target market?" And then I figure out what I can do, and set aside time to do it. Today, I wrote this post, and will post it as a blog, as well, so it does double duty. Because as odd as it may seem, I'm fairly lazy. And if I can get one bit of writing to serve two purposes, that's a big WIN.

26) Finally, don't waste your time. Don't do things that don't work and are a time suck. I won't tell you what those are. You will have to figure them out for yourself. Some advise tweeting a bunch, others say Facebook is the thing, some swear by Google +, others by Triberr...point is, there's a universe of stuff out there to use, or not. My personal feeling is that many authors I speak with seem unable to make the distinction between what is effective and what is completely pointless. Maybe I'm wrong. But the authors I know who sell consistently, and who have built or are building sustainable careers, optimize their time and try to use it wisely.

26a) Having said all this, your best chance of making it is always writing your next book. You should always be working on the next one, and the next, and the next. Nobody ever succeeded by quitting. So if you're going to do this, do it, stop whining, suck it up, and get to work.

That's basically what I've been sending to those who have contacted me, but in snippets, because I'm currently finishing up my WIP, and figuring out my next one. I don't have tons of time to respond to everyone personally, for which I apologize, but this contains about 80% of what I've learned so far. Take what seems useful, reject or vilify the rest. The intent from my standpoint is to offer a framework, an approach, that has worked well for me. It does not mean it's the only way, but it does mean it's my way. I can't speak to what's worked for others. I can't even say that this will work ever again, or for most, but I sincerely believe it's your best shot if you're a beginning, or even not so beginning, author. Use it, or don't, with my compliments.

The market is constantly changing, so be prepared to change with it. Nothing is the same as it was, nor shall it be a year from now.

The book is dead. Long live the book.

Russell Blake
« Last Edit: December 13, 2013, 02:27:48 PM by blakebooks »


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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2013, 09:35:54 AM »
Lots of solid advice here; thank you.

Must take exception with #3 though. You say: "Don't bother with short stories or novellas (40K or under)."

That's a personal, subjective preference. I've got quite a few books at 40K or under that are selling like mad. Just because you don't personally enjoy writing or reading something of that length, doesn't mean that it's good blanket advice for the rest of the world to completely avoid that length.

Overall though, good advice.

Offline blakebooks

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2013, 09:38:12 AM »
Good on you. I haven't heard of many who have done well with short stories or novellas - and I do mean in fiction, which I'll clarify. I've written two short stories in my life, neither of which are for sale. If you're selling a boatload of short stories or novellas, brilliant, I say. I just wouldn't recommend it, as it seems like the vast majority of fiction short stories and novellas don't sell, unless they're erotica or your name's Hugh. Maybe I'm wrong. God knows I am often enough...
« Last Edit: May 07, 2013, 09:40:50 AM by blakebooks »


Offline Nick Endi Webb

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2013, 09:41:13 AM »
You had me at Umberto Eco.

Very solid advice. Thanks!

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Offline cblewgolf

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2013, 09:50:09 AM »
I almost skipped this post due to the length but saw who posted it and dove in.  Thanks for the tips & advice.  The success you have in such a short time is mind-blowing.  You didn't mention how the jump happened except to say you published more.  I guess that is the secret...

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2013, 09:50:47 AM »
Thanks Russell! Love those tips. I also enjoyed reading Silver Justice and I have the first Jet book lined up to read on my Kindle.

The one advice I hear a lot about is write more. I only have one book out right now, I'm aiming to have #2 out in July and #3 is almost done. I might try to get #4 out there end of the year. I'm a slow writer, but I think I put a lot of mental roadblocks so advice like yours and Elle have hit home. I'm going to try to improve on that!

Pricing also hit home. I'm at $1.99 but I noticed that I'm on the cheap end with other books in my genre, but as an unknown I haven't been confident to raise my price.

Anyway, I printed this bad boy out. Good to tips to go back to in the future. Thanks!

Offline Adam Pepper

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2013, 09:53:48 AM »
Lots here.  Thanks for all the insight, Russell.

Offline NathanHaleJefferson

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2013, 09:59:45 AM »
Lots of great advice!  Thank you for the post.

I especially liked the pricing points and the not wasting time.  I'm guilty of the later one. Every. Single. Day.    :'(
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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2013, 10:05:47 AM »
I rarely read long forum posts like this, but this one was worth of it. Much of it is common sense, much of it is what I've already learned and am doing, but to get the big picture, the mile high view like this in one post is really helpful. Thanks for taking the time to write and share this.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2015, 10:30:05 AM by DJ Edwardson »

Offline blakebooks

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2013, 10:06:39 AM »
cblew: I saw sales really spike after my new titles gained traction, and I also started doing free Select days - my first ones were mid-Jan. Jan and Feb were stable at around 3K sales a day, and then March, when I launched Voynich Cypher, I sold 7K of those bad boys in about 3 weeks, so it spiked my sales to well into five figures for March and April. I also launched the third in the Assassin series in April, and then the fourth in May, so it just built from there. Although last May-Oct was slow, dropping by roughly 50% from my peak in March. That's seasonality for you. And of course, following my own advice, I released JET and JET 2 in Oct, JET 3 in Nov, JET 4 in Dec and JET V in April of 2013, with the fifth in the Assassin series in March.

I eat my own cooking on this.


Offline MegHarris

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2013, 10:07:45 AM »
I'll echo WinwoodPub and say that my best sellers are novellas and short stories. Then again, I haven't written a novel in a while, and I'm not exactly breaking sales records, either, so my opinion may not be all that relevant. I think this is the kind of thing that may vary from genre to genre, too-- a lot of people seem to do well with short erotica.

Quote
Get professional help.

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2013, 10:09:09 AM »
DJ: I am, after all, a novelist...

NathanH: I wrote this instead of finishing my WIP, so we are all guilty of it. Do as I say, not as I do...


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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2013, 10:11:22 AM »
Meg, I amended the original post to include erotica, which I believe is an exception. But perhaps a valid one. So there it is.


Offline Darren Wearmouth

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2013, 10:12:08 AM »
Is the Jet series a group of standalone novels or is there an arc that goes right through?

I am few chapters through my second book and can't realistically think of a way to make it stand alone in the world created during the first.

Thanks for sharing the info by the way, I enjoyed reading it.

Offline Vivi_Anna

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2013, 10:12:26 AM »
Great post and advice.  

My best sellers are novellas.  They out sell my novels 10-1. So I think it also depends on genre.  

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Offline EC Sheedy

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2013, 10:13:53 AM »
Just WOW! And thank you for taking the time to write such a helpful post.

I know every writer works in their own way, but knowing how others have become so successful in self-publishing is such an eye opener--plus it forces one to give the eagle eye to one's own, uh, work ethic/schedule and look for ways to change and improve on it. At least that is how it works for me.

Again, thank you.  :) (And again to Elle for her terrific post.)
 

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Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever."   ― Philip Pullman

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2013, 10:17:54 AM »
DA: JET is a series of standalone novels, but they are episodic. The main character undergoes an arc over the course of the books, but it is a slow one, which represents the time span, which is only a matter of a few months. That, and it's deliberately overblown good fun in the Kill Bill/Bourne vein, and that doesn't really require a lot of arc. As with a James Bond epic, Bond is always Bond - he doesn't go from shooting the bad guy and bedding the temptress to saving kitties and quilting.

Although he could, if I thought there was a market for that.

Vivi: Absolutely. Again, I'm posting counsel based on what I do and know. If you're tearing them up with novellas and selling a boatload, good on you. If you're selling some, but not that many, I'd take a hard look at your novels and how to better market or position them, unless you're in a genre where novels don't sell well. In other words, if everyone else's novels in your genre are selling well but yours aren't, that could signal an issue (pay attention to what the market's telling you). If novellas are your genre's preferred reading format, ignore that part of my opinion.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2013, 10:21:38 AM by blakebooks »


Offline ellecasey

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2013, 10:18:04 AM »
I had to stop reading just so I could post this:

Not in the real world. I mean, anything's theoretically possible, but so is marrying a billionaire. Don't make that your business strategy. It's a non-strategy.


Yes!  Wow, yes.  This stuff is pure gold.  I hope every indie on this board reads it.  I love the blunt honesty here.  Some people might not like it, but then I'd advise them to ask themselves why.  Truth.  Truth.

Offline Darren Wearmouth

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2013, 10:25:14 AM »
DA: JET is a series of standalone novels, but they are episodic. The main character undergoes an arc over the course of the books, but it is a slow one, which represents the time span, which is only a matter of a few months. That, and it's deliberately overblown good fun in the Kill Bill/Bourne vein, and that doesn't really require a lot of arc. As with a James Bond epic, Bond is always Bond - he doesn't go from shooting the bad guy and bedding the temptress to saving kitties and quilting.

Although he could, if I thought there was a market for that.

Cheers, it's got good reviews in the UK so I've grabbed the first one for free.

I suppose this goes back to your point about reading. You're doing well and can churn a lot out, I'm interested to see your style.

Offline dalya

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2013, 10:26:56 AM »
Great post! Absolutely true.

I just wanted to add that it takes some people a few books to find their genre. You don't have to stick to the same genre as your first or second book, but know that every time you switch, you're starting from scratch, albeit with more experience.

Offline blakebooks

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2013, 10:29:51 AM »
Hey Elle: You're no slouch yourself. But yes, this is written exactly as my self talk, my internal dialogue, goes. Blunt, no BS, WTF are you thinking sort of dialogue. I prefer it, because I can find tons of people to tell me I'm the bomb and that my feelings are important, etc. But what I've noticed is that all the pros in the business tend to be rather direct. They don't pull punches. They don't have the time. They're busy, and if you can't take it, it's your problem, not theirs, and they figure the market will chew you up and spit you out, anyway. Also, I have run my own businesses in past lives, and markets don't coddle you - their blows are not with nerf bats. They are far blunter than I can ever be. So I encourage authors to strip away the BS when they are evaluating the business side of this, and toughen up, because even in the best of times, it's likely to be a rough ride.

DA: JET was deliberately written as a non-stop rollercoaster - I can honestly say I've never read a faster-paced series of novels. But you'll note there's a prose element to it that's essential to my style. I kid myself that you can write at a more sophisticated level and still be commercially viable, even in the action thriller genre. Books doing well, so I'd say so far so good. Hope you enjoy it.

Dalya: Sure. But wouldn't it be better for all involved if they thought it through up front and decided what they wanted to be when they grew up? That's my point. Think it through. If you could only write one book, what would it be? The write it. And then write another, hopefully in that series. Because if it's good, your readers will demand you make it a series. Just the way it works. They'll want more of that, whatever that is. Just the way it works. Ask Hugh.


Offline RM Prioleau

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2013, 10:30:13 AM »
This is great stuff. Thank you for posting it. I'm doing everything on this list except #1 and #4. My base genre is fantasy, but I'm using that base genre that I know and writing in other genres (ie: romance fantasy). I am writing across the board because I want to find that 'sweet spot' for readers, then once I do, I am going to stick with that genre because it apparently works.
As for #4, I read as much as I have time to. But it's hard to read (at least for me) when you're an author. My inner editor turns on and it's hard for me to get into a story. Moreover, I have to make time to write my own books around the schedule of my full-time job and nightly teaching obligations.

I hope your post helps many up-and-coming indie authors.

Offline Saul Tanpepper

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2013, 10:38:50 AM »
Solid advice, and anyone notice? No magic spells or incantations.
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Offline Soothesayer

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2013, 10:44:10 AM »
Ditto on what others have said re: novellas. My novellas for the moment outsell my novels-though they're in erotica. Not sure that makes a difference.

Promotion: you don't say what the min. number of novels is, but I wouldn't even think of promoting unless you have 5-7 novels out, and preferably a series.

My non-fiction books outsell ALL my fiction by 100 to 1. Yep... one hundred to ONE. I don't know why this is. My first book was non-fiction. I've begun to hate it for the success it steals from my fiction. It only took a week to write. I don't like writing non-fiction at all, but that's where the money is. I'm writing a followup to that one alongside my thrillers, and it is not unlike chinese water torture (computer tech stuff).

I would add that you should ask for reviews in the back matter and provide a link if necessary.

Oh, and five pages to get their attention? No way. More like two, especially today since most just don't exert the attention due to the fast-paced media culture we live in, but since most of my own chapters are five pages long, it does make sense to treat the entire first chapter as your FIRST PAGE.

Ground the reader in the setting using all five senses if possible. Make them slip into the pair of eyes and see what the character sees (if you open it with one).
« Last Edit: May 07, 2013, 10:54:19 AM by Soothesayer »

Offline jdfield

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #24 on: May 07, 2013, 10:44:30 AM »
Great Advice. Thanks!