Self-Publishers: Taking the Long View
by Stella Atrium
live in Old Town in Chicago, as I have mentioned in previous blogs. We
have a series of street fairs in the summer here, and I like to attend
to watch the well-heeled residents. At one fair last summer a kiosk was
set-up outside the entrance to the actual fair where bright-faced young
people were giving away samples of a new energy drink in a red and
black aluminum can with a twist top. I carried my sample around for
forty minutes so they couldn’t force another one on me when I passed
I was headed home at two in the afternoon when the fair
was just going into full swing, and one of the young venders at the
kiosk announced that they had sold out. “We sold out,” she proclaimed,
even though there was no cash drawer for receiving funds. “That other
booth still has product, but ours is gone because we had the
better-selling item.” I didn’t argue with her. It’s not good to
discourage young people.
The booth she indicated was actually
selling their drinks, at Chicago prices, street fair prices, and was
stocked for the entire day, rather than with enough product to last
only five hours.
turned the corner and passed some overfull trash bins, many holding
unopened cans of red and black design. I threw my unopened can on top.
Self-publishers can take a lesson from this incident.
Best-selling is an abused term when talking about 99¢ items, or free
items. Maybe more pieces moved out of the kiosk, but what profit was
You may argue that promotions are not about profit, but
about branding. I would counter that a free sample is not the same as a
purchase, and doesn’t imply that I will remember the product’s name,
open it, or look for one later at the store. Branding didn’t happen.
entrepreneurs advise writers and self-publishers to work at providing
the personal touch, spend hours on Twitter and Tumblr, solicit
interviews on the websites of other writers, engage with giveaways at
reading sites, join in blog tours, lower the prices for ebooks, and
constantly reassess what works for your genre or your story. These
advisors are the people who are making money – from writers – If we
stop the rat race, they would have no audience.
in the old paradigm short-term sales pushed visibility of a new book. A
flurry of reviews followed by a prime location in chain bookstores were
coordinated with a print run that ensured enough copies to meet demand
after the writer appeared on the Today Show.
were monitored by chain bookstores so that, if a book didn’t move in
six weeks, copies were returned to the distributor.
era of ebooks changed that need for quarterly sales figures and lists
of top ten sales numbers. In ebook form, the item is not returned so
bookstore inventory stays fresh. An ebook is published forever and can
gain an audience by word-of-mouth, and by good reviews, over six months
or eighteen months.
Or eighteen years.
The writer can
reinforce her brand by publishing a second book in a series. I learned
on Reddit that some fans of fantasy (my genre) don’t pick up the first
book of a trilogy until all three books are available. That’s the long
view. I’m not published to my fan base until Book III is in print.
But where’s the downside of taking the long view? Book II of my Dolvia Saga titled HeartStone
is due out in June 2012. I paid for a Kirkus Review so some quality
press accompanies the release, and a couple reviewers from GoodReads
were kind enough to review ARC copies.
I’m considering RAISING
the price of the ebook version to a level more in keeping with other
writers in my cohort – equalizing the price for Book I and Book II at
$6.99, similar to Lois MacMaster Bujold or Robin Hobb or Jacqueline
Carey. After all, the paperback copy sells for $19.95.
What is lost if I take the long view? A lot of busywork to keep pace with the Smashwords crowd?
So… if you made it this far. Please BUY NOW. SufferStone: Book I of the Dolvia Saga is still priced in ebook version at $3.19 on Amazon. BUY NOW at this 55% discounted price before June 2012.
ebook version of the Dolvia Saga is well worth $6.99, just like the
fantasy novels of Bujold, Hobb and Carey are each worth the cover
price. That’s equivalent to two cups of Starbucks coffee. But today,
you can BUY NOW at the discounted price of $3.19.
And you can claim that you’re in with the in-crowd.