Author Topic: Sell Loads of Books - My System Spelled Out  (Read 104377 times)  

Offline Soothesayer

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #50 on: May 07, 2013, 01:23:03 PM »

I don't follow, are you saying that if you only have one book, not to promote? Or you personally don't promote authors with just one book out?

I only have one book out so far and I promote it, how else am I going to reach readers? Plus it builds a readership and my brand as I'm ready to publish #2 and #3 in the series. I'd like to encourage one book authors (like myself) to put time aside, as Russell suggests, to promote. Don't wait until everything is perfect, go find your readers and write more books.

I find promotion to be a huge time sink, and if we're only talking one book, I'd rather spend that time writing more books. My one non-fiction book outsells everything else, even fiction. I didn't do any promoting at all. No social media, no ads, nothing. I just picked a subject I knew quite a bit about and wrote 10k words and hit publish.

I've never bought anything due to someone's promo. Not on Twitter, FB or anywhere else. Paid ads too. If you have one book, you might earn a sale, but how are they going to see your future books? They can't. They aren't written yet... because you're promoting. Just get those books out a lot sooner. A promo of one book holds up the optimization process, imho. The marketers here will disagree of course, but then, most of them don't have the ability to write fiction.

Offline Kristy Tate

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #51 on: May 07, 2013, 01:27:09 PM »
THANK YOU
Just raised my prices...except for my perma free

Offline Beatriz

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #52 on: May 07, 2013, 01:28:04 PM »
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 2013, from the start of the year to today, May 7, I have sold just shy of 100K books, and look good to exceed 200K for the year by a decent margin. I do not sell books at .99, or $2.99, or $3.99. The vast majority of my titles are $5-$6. 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 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

Thanks a lot for the input and I'm very happy with your success, but this is a game of Russian Roulette, some writers don't do any of the things you did and they become a hit overnight, others struggle for years, doing a lot, and never get anywhere.  I think for most of us, writing is a compulsion, we have to write, we are creative people, but this is still a game a sheer luck if not fate.  I know I'm a good writer.  I have very good, heartfelt reviews, and I write about what moves me, not what may sell, but my sales are still very  modest.  Sure I'd like to sell  more but I don't have a name like Amanda Knox or a nice little scandal behind me.  I'm not a celebrity so most people don't even know I'm out there.  But I'm still proud of what I accomplished and if my work touches ten people instead of ten thousand, that's okay too.

Beatrice Brusic | author website | blog | twitter | facebook

Offline blakebooks

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #53 on: May 07, 2013, 01:32:16 PM »
Soothe: It is a time sink. That's why I recommend 25% of your time go to that, and the other 75% writing. An all or nothing approach tends not to generate stellar results, if the net is that it keeps your book a secret. And unless you, an indie author writing in your genre, are your target audience, it doesn't much matter what you do or don't do when buying a book, because you aren't your own target audience.

Kristy: I'm not counseling raising or lowering prices, merely experimenting to see whether your market is elastic enough to bear a higher price without negatively impacting sales. And to look at peers to see where they are in the spectrum. If you're lower than your peers, might look at raising. If you're at parity, maybe not so much. But it never hurts to experiment - I would give it a week and see what happens, then adjust accordingly...

Beatrice: Of course luck has a lot to do with it. I'm simply telling you what I did. It worked. I don't think anyone has to defend their decisions on what they write. They just need to accept that if they aren't running their book selling business like a real business, their odds of selling books are far lower than if they do run it like one. Sure, there will always be outliers. In business parlance, that's called a lottery winner. If your business strategy is essentially to hope to win the lottery, that's fine, but it's not going to generate a lot of excitement in anyone looking to invest in a business, because it's got far lower odds of making it. I view things from a very business-oriented standpoint once I have my book selling business hat on. And just writing whatever floats my boat makes me feel freed as an artist, but does little or nothing for my book selling business, so I tend to have to do a tug of war with whether I want to feel free and artistic, or whether I want to do what is necessary to sell books.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2013, 01:37:09 PM by blakebooks »


Offline Glenn Wood

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #54 on: May 07, 2013, 01:36:44 PM »
Brilliant,  Thanks for the tips - The writing I'm fine with, it's the promotion I'm struggling to come to grips with.  Most of my books are traditionally published so I haven't been worried about this stuff but the rights of a couple have reverted to me and I'm putting them on Kindle.  Now I have to worry about being noticed!  And I'm from a small market.

Offline Alan Petersen

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #55 on: May 07, 2013, 01:43:31 PM »
I find promotion to be a huge time sink, and if we're only talking one book, I'd rather spend that time writing more books. My one non-fiction book outsells everything else, even fiction. I didn't do any promoting at all. No social media, no ads, nothing. I just picked a subject I knew quite a bit about and wrote 10k words and hit publish.

I've never bought anything due to someone's promo. Not on Twitter, FB or anywhere else. Paid ads too. If you have one book, you might earn a sale, but how are they going to see your future books? They can't. They aren't written yet... because you're promoting. Just get those books out a lot sooner. A promo of one book holds up the optimization process, imho. The marketers here will disagree of course, but then, most of them don't have the ability to write fiction.

Gotcha. And you're correct it can be a time sink. Time management is key, for example, as Russell mentioned a 75/25 split.

You also need to choose your promotion time wisely. As a new author, I don't have a huge following on Twitter or Facebook so I limit myself to social media to every other day. I don't really see Twitter and Facebook as promotional tools but more for branding and to become more accessible to readers.

My promotion time goes to keyword targeting on Amazon (I want my book to appear on first page of Amazon for "CIA thrillers" for example). Reaching out to book bloggers and reviewers. Getting picked up by the big ebook sites like POI and paid promotions on sites like BookBub for example. That's where I focus my promotion. A few things so it's not a huge time suck. Then I can spend more time writing.  I'm happy with where my book sales are so far with my one book.

And I'm just talking about fiction, non-fiction is a different animal.

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #56 on: May 07, 2013, 01:54:52 PM »
Very useful RussellIm listening. Thanks.

James Lee Burke is in my pantheon, too.

Question: you say 60-90K for a full-length novel, in the thriller cat I assume. I had heard that 60K was on the short side for a thrillerdo you notice a difference in sales of your books depending on length?

Offline blakebooks

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #57 on: May 07, 2013, 02:02:40 PM »
Toni: Nope. I don't notice any difference at all, although I think I sort of naturally gravitate to writing them in the 90-100K length and then editing 10% away to speed the pace along. I don't really focus too much on word count, though, because it's all about whether the story is well told or not. I keep word count goals in my head per day, and can estimate that at 90K words it will take 16 days to complete a first draft, but beyond that I don't pay much attention. I think that as long as you're in that 65K or over range, you are fine, although if you're going to charge $6, they better be some pretty damned fine words, or it would be better to wind up at 85K.

Burke is incredible. Check out Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk if you want another innovative wordsmith in a whole different genre.


Offline Misfit

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #58 on: May 07, 2013, 02:08:14 PM »
Thanks for this write up. A lot of solid points in there to think about

Offline Annie B

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #59 on: May 07, 2013, 02:09:10 PM »
A lot of thrillers by bestsellers are in the 60-80k range. Just because Patterson's books on the shelf all look like they are the same length doesn't mean they are. That's the magic of print layout. A lot of his work is 60-70k if you actually go by wordcount instead of page count.

Personally, I like reading tighter, shorter thrillers.

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #60 on: May 07, 2013, 02:12:19 PM »
Toni: Nope. I don't notice any difference at all, although I think I sort of naturally gravitate to writing them in the 90-100K length and then editing 10% away to speed the pace along. I don't really focus too much on word count, though, because it's all about whether the story is well told or not. I keep word count goals in my head per day, and can estimate that at 90K words it will take 16 days to complete a first draft, but beyond that I don't pay much attention. I think that as long as you're in that 65K or over range, you are fine, although if you're going to charge $6, they better be some pretty damned fine words, or it would be better to wind up at 85K.

Burke is incredible. Check out Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk if you want another innovative wordsmith in a whole different genre.

Most certainly the gold standard is quality of the words. I was wondering whether the lower-end word count of 60K would deter some thriller readers, before they get to the words. But Ill take 65K as the final answer  ;)

Small worldI bought Billy Lynn last week. Really looking forward to that one.
Re Burke: I think Wyatt Dixon is the most chilling/endearing/compelling villains Ive ever read.

Offline Herc- The Reluctant Geek

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #61 on: May 07, 2013, 02:25:19 PM »
TLDR version:

Write lots + read lots + promote a bit + enjoy what you write but remember its a business = profit

 ;D Thanks for the post

Offline blakebooks

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #62 on: May 07, 2013, 02:59:32 PM »
Toni: I think it's more a matter of when they finish the book, whether it seemed short. And also, I think when it lands on their kindle, you want to avoid the, "That's all there is?" reaction, especially at the higher price points. I'm not saying pad it, but if it could be more like 65-70K, my gut says that would be a more satisfying visceral experience. As an example, Night of the Assassin is my shortest fiction novel, at about 55K now after rewriting and adding some additional chapters, and I couldn't see myself charging more than $3 for it. Maybe $3.50. But if one of my newish novels is $6 and 85-90, it just seems wrong to charge more than a percentage lower for that percentage less content. I'd rather be fair than squeeze a few more dimes out of it. I'd personally feel just a tad ripped off if a novel was under 70K in the thriller genre, unless it was only three or so bucks.

You'll like Billy Lynn.

Burke is probably in the top 3 living American writers working today. Maybe more like #1. In my opinion.


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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #63 on: May 07, 2013, 03:42:42 PM »
My WIP is definitely novella-length, closing in on 50K. After editing itll surely be shorter, as I tend to write long, first draft. It might support a subplot to flesh out a certain character arc/side story. Might not. If not, Ill call it a novella and likely make it perma-free. Anyway, going forward, Im returning to the novel-length neighborhood where thrillers mostly live.

Thanks again for the thoughts on length/cost/category.

My first Burke was Bitterroot. I stayed in Montana awhile then made my way to Robicheaux and New Orleans. And then I stumbled upon one of his earlier works, not thriller/detective, but quintessentially Burke: To the Bright and Shining Sun. The man can write.

Offline Lizbooks

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #64 on: May 07, 2013, 03:55:22 PM »
This has to be one of my favorite KB threads. So much good information. Though it was a little deflating to read that short stories and novellas tend to be less successful, since that's the only thing I can self-publish (I'm under contract to a publisher for anything over 10K). Does anyone know if the market for shorts is as good for erotic romance as it apparently is for erotica?

Offline Edward W. Robertson

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #65 on: May 07, 2013, 03:59:05 PM »
Thanks a lot guys, now I'm reading Bitterroot instead of writing my next book.
    

Offline Cheryl Douglas

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #66 on: May 07, 2013, 03:59:53 PM »
Excellent advice! Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us. Okay, I'm to focus on promotion now. I admit I've been a little lazy in that department lately.

Offline Robert A Michael

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #67 on: May 07, 2013, 04:04:20 PM »
Thanks for the post.  Great stuff.  Loved reading JET.  I had just finished publishing the first novella in my Jake Monday series when I picked it up.  We write in about the same genre.  I love your technique.  You are very talented.  

Your advice about sticking with a genre really hits home with me.  I love to read and have always dreamed of writing in multiple genres (Horror, Thrillers, Fantasy, Historical, and even in Romance--sort of like Sparks).  Even though I classify my first novel as a Horror, I originally felt it was a Thriller.  I think I will take your advice, though and use a pen name for the other genres.

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Offline jackz4000

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #68 on: May 07, 2013, 04:08:44 PM »
All Great stuff Russell. Thank for taking the time.

Offline Joe_Nobody

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #69 on: May 07, 2013, 04:21:58 PM »
First of all, let me say that I agree with 99% of the OP.
I couldn't have said it better myself.

For a credibility standpoint, check this out:

Mr. Blake is currently ranked #9 on the Action/Adventure author's ranking. He's above Tom Clancy, Ian Fleming, James Patterson, W.E.B. Griffin and many, many other household names.

I'm only #29 on that list and I'm busting a ton of books out the door at the moment. I can't imagine what it takes to crack the top 10.

Mr. Blake, thank you for taking the time to write this. I hope every struggling writer gives it a good study. 

Offline mrv01d

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #70 on: May 07, 2013, 04:22:30 PM »
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...

Great advice and a thoughtful post, however, many genres will support novellas. Erotica as you've mentioned, but also romance,young adult, fantasy and sf. So the advice is really to write lengths tolerated by your genre.

I'm writing primarily short stories and novellas so I can attest that there is success in shorter lengths.

M
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Offline ellecasey

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #71 on: May 07, 2013, 04:30:57 PM »
Great advice and a thoughtful post, however, many genres will support novellas. Erotica as you've mentioned, but also romance,young adult, fantasy and sf. So the advice is really to write lengths tolerated by your genre.

I'm writing primarily short stories and novellas so I can attest that there is success in shorter lengths.

M

I write in YA, and my readers have been very clear that they don't like novellas or short stories.  They want BIG books. (They like big books and they cannot not lie...).  And erotica readers are starting to trend towards longer books too.  I agree with the OP, the shorts and serials are not as popular as they once were.

Do you have other books in other pen names?  I see only two in your name on Amazon and their ranking suggest not many have been sold recently.  Could be because of this trend moving towards longer works, like I've noticed.  I've written one serial erotic romance title and it's the box set that sells, not the individual pieces.  And most readers waited until the whole thing was out before buying.

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #72 on: May 07, 2013, 04:49:25 PM »
Thanks a lot guys, now I'm reading Bitterroot instead of writing my next book.

Heh. My work derail here is finished.

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #73 on: May 07, 2013, 05:00:47 PM »
I write in YA, and my readers have been very clear that they don't like novellas or short stories.  They want BIG books. (They like big books and they cannot not lie...). 

Thanks for this re-affirmation, Elle. I thought it was counter intuitive that YAs would want bigger books, but sure enough, that's the one comment I got repeatedly on the first book in my series. At 40k it wasn't long enough for them. So in a careful-what-you-wish-for scenario, I've been writing longer and longer books ever since. Not looking back, either.

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Re: How To Sell Loads of Books
« Reply #74 on: May 07, 2013, 05:06:02 PM »
Ed: Don't feel bad. I spent half my writing day responding to threads here instead of finishing my WIP. Burke is a massive talent. Man knows how to make words do his bidding and dance for him.

mrv and elle: If so, then I amend my statement. Certainly, I haven't seen novellas or short stories do much of anything in my genre. I can appreciate that they might do well in erotica. As to the rest, dunno. But I suspect that readers want value for their money regardless of the genre. If 8K words is regarded as a value proposition in erotica, then obviously my counsel must be used with a grain of common sense depending upon the genre.

Joe_N: Crap. I was #6 on there a few days ago. Probably best that I don't look at that stuff. What it takes is a buttload of books. Around 650-1000 a day. Nice work if you can get it. But it can turn on a dime, so I don't spend a lot of time laurel resting.

Robert: It's more work to have to support two names, but it's also probably cleaner for the reader, so ultimately, better for you to shoulder the heavy end of the log and resign yourself to it. That's one man's take.

Everyone else: Glad you found something useful in all this. Amazing the lengths I'll go to in order to get out of doing my WIP. If someone rounded out the amount I've written counting the original post, I bet it's many thousand words. I could have been done by now! Let that be a lesson. Although I managed 2500 so far, and won't stop until I've done my 5K for the day. And there's always manana...