Exposure: It’s All About Being Read
It’s All About Being Read: Several days ago I began thinking about writing an article based on a discussion I had with a dear female writer friend of mine who lives in the US. For what it’s worth, here it is.
For months I’ve been acting like a combination of sounding board and big brother to her. She is currently publishing via a small press. She is always complaining about the lack of sales for her books. I suggested she try going ‘Indie’ with her next book, only published in eBook form – emphasis on the word ‘try’. If she doesn’t like the experience, she can still continue with her current publisher. On the other hand, she may find having a foot in both camps may be to her benefit…
The trouble is she likes physical books in her hands. To her totally unfathomable way of thinking, being a writer is all about selling a few copies of her books at various small-town book fares! She can still do that if she embraces self-publishing.
If she still wants physical copies, publishing systems like CreateSpace gives you that choice. She can always order copies and set them up at book fairs, bookstores, etc. I asked her how many books she sold last year. She answered by saying that her sales were in the low dozens. Pitiful when you consider I sold 8225 last year alone.
Since I became a full-time ‘Indie’ I’ve given away well over 10,000 copies of my books. It’s called making yourself known, or if you like, advertising. No conventional publisher, be they small press or one of the large publishing houses will ever consider doing that. It’s totally understandable when you realize that they work to a yearly budget.
It’s a no-brainer, folks. Do a two-day giveaway of the eBook version of your books on Amazon!!!
I just wish to god my friend would stop thinking small. It’s driving me nuts. She is a talented writer. I really want to shake her out of her complacency. The trouble is she lacks self-confidence. She’s currently going through the same thing I did when I was with a conventional publisher. One book published every two years, instead of once a year, just doesn’t work if you are unknown. As for promoting your book, due to budgetary constraints, a lot of conventional publishing houses do damn all these days.
You must come into this business with a thick hide and a no holds barred agenda if you wish to get sales. Above all, you must believe in your stories as well as yourself. As another writer friend of mine succinctly put it – “you have to give to get”. Face it, folks, it’s all about being read. Selling a copy to great aunt Maude and the ladies attending her weekly afternoon tea and gossip session just won’t cut it!
Once several thousand people have read a book written by you, your work sells itself. I’m living proof of that. Word gets around, believe me. Since embracing the whole self-publishing scene, these days I’m having a bad month if my sales drop below 100.
One last point for you to consider, if you do decide to go down the ‘Indie’ route it’s interesting comparing eBook sales figures between the US and here. For every 100 I sell in the US, I’m lucky if I get 5-10 sales here in the UK each month. My countrymen have yet to embrace the concept of eBooks, let alone realise that they are no longer living in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
As for the rest of the Amazon worldwide outlets – forget it! If you write in one of the many versions of the English language, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, India, Brazil, and Mexico simply do not buy English language fiction, unless it is one of the classics.
I feel for the good people of Mexico. Thanks to Kindle Direct Publishing’s pricing regime, an eBook selling in the US at $2.99, inexplicably is priced there at $38.85! Much the same thing occurs pricing-wise with Amazon’s other publishing outlet CreateSpace. Lastly, never worry about Amazon’s totally nonsensical ‘rating system’, when it comes to your books.
The problem is that a lot of writers do just that…
Since writing this article, in particular the paragraph referring to Amazon’s worldwide outlets, they have just opened a Kindle store in Australia at Amazon.com.au. Why? They have no physical presence in the country. I have heard from a couple of friends there that a sizeable delay occurs from the time you buy to when you actually receive the eBook you wanted.. :p
I’ve never had any delay in downloading e-books from the US site. However, I appreciate being able to pay in AUS dollars rather than running the vagaries of the exchange rate.
This is not the normal US site Paula, hence the ‘au’ extension. Perhaps setting up an Australian Kindle store is the first step to establishing yet another physical branch of the company… 😉
Interesting article, Jack. Congratulations on your success and thanks for sharing your tips. I do think book giveaways are terrific. I’ve only done them on Goodreads and not on Amazon, but I think maybe Amazon bought Goodreads. This is perhaps obvious, but I find having your book both as an e-book and in print reaches a wider readership.
Jack, I think you’ve got the formula down; experiment, persist, experiment, persist, experiment, persist and never forget to persist at writing the stories you enjoy writing.
It’s good to see you’re getting results.
Thanks for your comment Kristin. While its true that people do still like to hold a physical book in their hands, with the advent of the ereader in all its many incarnations, eBooks far outsell their physical cousins, especially in the US. My own sales figures back me up on that.
You are quite correct, Amazon now owns Goodreads lock stock and barrel. I used to have an account with Goodreads. Once the ‘trolls’ and ‘bullies’ made it their base of operations I closed it down. Many fellow writers did the same thing.
Despite Goodreads claiming they had cleaned house and banned the baddies, unfortunately they are still there. They still choose a writer at random and ‘bomb’ them incessantly, by issuing ‘one star’ so-called reviews. Its a great shame that Goodreads has become a cesspool of hate and downright envy…
Thank you Robert. Being an ‘Indie’ is a lot of hard work. It very definitely not the place to be for the faint hearted. 😉
Here is a classic case in point re Goodreads Kristin – http://mystiparker.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/whats-in-word.html
That really is unfortunate. I’m sorry if you were subjected to such behavior. I guess I’m under their radar and have been spared, at least for now. I’ve given away two books on Goodreads and it has been a positive experience. I have an eBook on Amazon now, but Goodreads doesn’t allow eBook giveaways. I’ve had many people ask for a print version, so I think that is going to happen soon. I have relationships with booksellers here in New Orleans and believe it or not, there are still some people who will only read a printed book. So, I guess I’ll keep a foot in both camps for now. Best wishes and continued success for you.