September Report: A Big, Big Slump

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: I had a huge drop in September.

I’m quite sanguine about it. I haven’t released something new since July and I have been virtually inactive on the promo front while trying to finish the final pass on A Storm Hits Valparaíso.

I know some people don’t like hearing talk about numbers and even less about dollars. For those of that persuasion, you can read my recent post on Indie Reader about the bout of pessimism that had permeated self-publishing circles on foot of Amazon’s recent changes to its layout and algorithms.

If you have already seen that, you can check out my new blog: South Americana. I’ll be talking more about it later in the week, but essentially its an effort to broaden my base in advance of my next release and reach out to readers with an interest in South American history or culture. The first post is on the Guayaquil Conference. Pop over and say hello.

Ok. The numbers. Ugh.

May: 153

June: 78

July: 253

August: 392

September: 140

So, yeah, a big drop. But if you look back at June, this isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this. And the two months have something else in common: no new release, and no promo while I prepared a new book.

In short, I’m not worried. I was also on vacation for the first two weeks in September and essentially disappeared from the internet. Less than 40 of those sales were in the first two weeks. Things picked up considerably towards the end.

While I wish readers wouldn’t take a holiday from buying my books while I am on vacation from selling them, it’s still worth it just to get that sand between your toes.

I also had a string of good luck in August: five star review from Big Al and features in Pixel of Ink and the Week in Rewind when I hadn’t submitted to any of them. That was bound to run out.

I’m not going to do a breakdown or a big analysis, other than to quickly note that revenue was $265 (down from $870 in August) and to point out an interesting trend with regards to sales channels.

Smashwords sales completely disappeared this month (indicating that I am still handselling every copy there). I have no idea about the partners (Apple, Barnes & Noble etc.) as we haven’t received numbers yet. I know I’m selling something on Barnes & Noble, but I wouldn’t say it’s much.

Last month was all Amazon. While US sales were extremely erratic, bouncing between zero and ten each day (but mostly on the lower side), UK sales were steady.

In fact, the proportion is growing. UK sales used to be negligible. In August they were a quarter of my total. Last month they were a third of my total. At least partly responsible must be the near continual presence of Let’s Get Digital in the Top 10 of its “genre” because I’m not doing any promo there. But hey, I’ll take it, especially in a month with such slim pickings.

Let’s accentuate the positives. Here’s a milestone: I’ve now sold over 1,000 e-books in less than five months. Not bad for an unknown, unpublished writer.

Let’s Get Digital was the #1 book on writing/publishing in both the UK and the US for significant periods, and knocked on the door of the Top 1000 on several occasions in both countries. It’s also picked up 53 five-star reviews on Amazon US & UK (out of 58 reviews total) and led to innumerable messages from readers, which is very gratifying.

I’m not saying any of this to brag (well maybe to rally myself a little). I think we all get caught up in the day-to-day numbers and our happiness can rise and fall with our Amazon rankings. As such, we tend to forget what we have achieved and should remind ourselves from time-to-time.

In the interests of balance, I should point out that sales of my short stories have been on life support for a couple of months. The main reason for that is that I haven’t had a fiction release since May.

And, of course, I haven’t been promoting them at all. But I have been doing something much more important: working on new stuff.

My upcoming novel – A Storm Hits Valparaíso – has experienced one delay after another. I’m still working on the final pass which should have been done in August. In fact, I started the book in 2006.

I’m not too stressed about the delay. It’s getting there, and is going to be far stronger book because of the methodical way I’ve approached the rewrite.

I know now that I was far too inexperienced to attempt such a complex narrative, and really threw myself in the deep-end with some concrete shoes, but I’m getting there and it will be worth it in the end.

The next novel after that will be a different kettle of fish. Already outlined, it will be much shorter, less research, less interweaving narratives. Once I get this monkey off my back, I’m going to fly through that in a few months and quicken up my whole process.

It’s clear to me at this early stage that my sales will decay rapidly without the impetus provided by new releases. So once this novel is out, you can look forward to more short stories, a collection, some translations, and direct sales from my website, to be quickly followed by another novel.

Hell, I might even do some promotion.🙂

 

About David Gaughran

David Gaughran is Irish, living in Prague, and the author of Mercenary, A Storm Hits Valparaiso, Let's Get Digital, Let's Get Visible, and this here blog.
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58 Responses to September Report: A Big, Big Slump

  1. Werner says:

    From the U.S. market perspective, part of the September Slump can be chalked up to the fact that the summer ended, the vacations are over – people are back to work and the kids back to school. It’s all back to business, all seriousness. The other thing is the baseball season is wrapping up into the paly-offs and on top of that the American football season just began, further vying for people’s attentions.

    I’d be willing to bet October will be better. As for your book releases, what I took from Bob Mayer’s blog is to: write three books before releasing the first, then market that first book for a few months before releasing the next, and have another one in the works before you release the third. In a recent post he outlines a gem of a business strategy for writers.

    http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/the-real-gatekeepers-in-publishing-now-authors/

    • Bob’s blog is great. When I released my first short story, I went out all guns blazing for the promo. I didn’t promote the second so much as I had come around to his way of thinking. The difference in sales did not make the time investment in the promo worthwhile.

      Personally, I wouldn’t hold back a release for that reason, but I would hold back on the promo until you had enough titles up where it was actually worth your time (i.e. when readers can buy a few books when they like one).

      I’m not so sure October will be better. It all depends if I release something or not, which is up in the air. I should have something out by November though, and things will definitely pick up then.

  2. Nothing to be too disappointed with there, Dave! As Werner says, numerous factors combine to make this a tight month for surplus cash everywhere. Add to that the end of the Amazon sales, when readers have pigged out from bargains from big names, and no surprise sales overall are in the doldrums.

    But Kindle Christmas is coming! Rejoice! The pie is getting bigger and bigger!

    The pessimism among some in indie circles is self-defeating nonsense. Anyone who thought they had a job for life because of previous Amazon success is deluded. It’s a business.

    Instead of moping on Kindleboards they should be looking at new ways to ride the markets, and getting on with the next book. There are no guarantees of success, of course, but plenty of indie writers are bucking the trend. Check out DD Scott’s latest post at WG2E, for example. Astounding!

    Werner, this “three books” theory is fine for writers with three books ready to go, but not at all good advice for those with just one. What should they do? Sit on their potential best-seller for another few years and miss out on all those prospective sales? That would be absolutely CRAZY!

    I know dozens of authors who are making very respectable returns with just one book. No question having new material is a great booster, but anyone who thinks one book is a waste of time is not thinking this through.. If it’s a good book people will buy it. If not, it doesn’t matter how many titles you line up.

    But if that first book is selling it’s getting your name out there, and establishing you as a writer. It’s giving you some history and kudos, and a not insignificant income. Many, many, many previously unknown authors are exceeding the average advance in a matter of months with their first e-books, and the very fact of these sales encourages them to put more effort into writing the next.

    And just maybe some of these will take off big time.

    Sitting on Books 1 and 2 for two years while you write book 3 is not going to somehow improve the first two books. It just means you’ve missed out on two years of sales, and in two years time the market may be that much harder for unknown names to break in.

    • Hey Mark,

      We can’t all knock it out of the park on our first swing🙂

      I feel good about it all. If I had four months of steady growth and then a slump, I might feel a little worse, but I’ve been up and down the whole way along. I don’t expect to stabilize really (ever?) until I get a few full length novels out. That’s what readers really want to read. Sales on the other stuff is a bonus, but I’ll take it!

      Dave

    • Damon J Courtney says:

      I think David already mentioned this above, but I like the idea of a hybrid of Bob Mayer’s strategy. Go ahead and write your three books, but release each one as you’re done with them and then start heavy promotion after the third is released. This is what I’m doing with my first series for a couple reasons.

      My primary goal is to become a better writer, and revising and revising the same book for years might get me there, but I think I have a better shot just writing more books. Does that mean the first book might suck? Possibly, but hopefully not embarrassingly so. If being a better writer is my primary goal, then continuing to write the books is the best use of my time.

      If I start doing heavy promotion now on the first book of a three book series, I MIGHT be able to get some people to go out and buy it. I think I’ve got a better shot at getting them to buy the first book and then sticking around to read the other two if they’re already out there.

      Most author bloggers say that I should be doing all my promotion now before the first book is released. Actually, they say I should have started months ago. I don’t know if what I’m doing will work, but I’m in this for the long haul, so I don’t really see a problem with trying.

      In short, here’s my plan:

      1. Releaes book 1.
      2. Release book 2.
      3. Release book 3.
      4. Promotion of all three books (with some added short stories)
      5. ???
      6. Profit!

      It’s a bit more complex than stealing underpants, but I think step 5 may be a bit less nebulous than the original model.

      • #5 is where you sprinkle the magic pixie sales dust on all your titles🙂

        I think you have the right approach. Work on getting the books done and published. By all means, give the books a little push on release, then get back to work on the next one. If it starts building up a head of steam, then roll with it – no harm doing some promo then. But the primary focus should always be on new material. At least until you have a decent backlist to promote.

        Now, you may strike it lucky, and the book could breakout. In which case, put your shoulder to the wheel and help it reach as many readers as possible. Otherwise, keep writing.

      • Damon, I think that’s an excellent plan in terms of your release schedule and when you’re promoting the books. You could still do some general promotion for each book as they come out, with the idea being that you can develop some enthusiastic fans to help you spread the word when it comes time to REALLY push all three books.

        That said, my advice would be to not publish any book until you feel it’s really the best book it can be, even if that means revising a few times. The effort of editing and revising not only makes you a better writer — you learn your weaknesses and can avoid repeating mistakes — but it makes for a better book. No book is perfect and ready to go after the first draft, and selling a bad read, just to get the book out there faster, isn’t a great way to develop a career — at least in my experience!

      • Damon J Courtney says:

        Brian, absolutely. See my response below to your comment. I’m not rushing anything. At least I don’t feel like I am. I read self-published authors and blogs for six months before thinking I could take the leap. I learned so much in that time by reading others’ mistakes as well as their successes, and I think I can put it to good use. I also devoured everything I could find about how to be a good writer. I will say that Amazon’s big show last week as lit a fire (no pun intended) under a lot of self-published authors if their blogs are anything to be believed.

        Ultimately, though, there comes a point where this first book is simply as good as I can make it right now. I’m completely new to writing (though not to storytelling). I feel like I have the basics, and I think I can tell a decent story, but there reaches a point where my inexperience means the book is as good as I can get it. It is at that point that I need to swallow my fear and take the leap. Then on to the second one. Which will be so much better than the first just for the experience.

        At least, that’s the theory. 0-] Several self-pub’d (and traditionally published, I might add) authors I’ve picked up are writing some amazing stuff. In some cases I picked them up in a later they wrote. When I went back to their first works, I could easily see where they had grown as a writer. But the stories were still good, and I could see them getting better with each book. If they had been too afraid to release those first works, I wouldn’t have the rest.

        For those new writers out there, don’t be afraid to release when you feel like it’s ready. Don’t rush it out there, but at some point, it’s as ready as it’s going to get. Release it and go write the next one. It will be better. And you’ll get better every time.

        And then… underpants! Err, profit.

      • Yes, some writers can go the other way and be paralyzed by fear, letting the perfect become the enemy of the good. I think the key for newer writer is to have a good feedback framework – whether that’s through forums, peers, critique circles, writing groups, editors, whatever – you need someone who will tell you straight where your story has gone off the rails as we are terrible at seeing the flaws (and sometimes the good points) in our own work.

        I still don’t have a huge amount of experience yet. I think I’ve developed a pretty good sense for when something is good enough or not. But I still write myself into a lot of dead-ends, and probably take more drafts to get to the “publishable” point than a more experienced writer would. As such, my process could be a lot quicker. That’s something, I guess (I hope), that will improve with experience.

  3. Moving 1000 ebooks is a terrific feat – congratulations David! I’m psyched for your debut novel, I think the effort you’re putting there will really show come the release and more than make up the lack of promo for the other stories. Like others have mentioned, it’s a slow time for sales anyway, therefore a great time to crank out some new material.

    The only concern I saw in your post was Smashwords. Why do you think sales from them have virtually dried up? I know Amazon’s slice of the market – especially for indies – is much larger. But the steep decline is a little baffling, especially when you”re used to selling moderately there.

    Any insider tips on the next novel?

    • I only seem to get Smashwords sales when I push readers there – very little is organic. But that’s direct from the site itself. I have no idea how I am doing on the partner sites. That’s to be expected – most readers aren’t aware of Smashwords. And their site could do with a little work on the reader side – but I believe that’s a priority for them.

      Looking back at my Smashwords sales historically, they seem to cluster around the time of a new release. That makes sense. If people don’t come across some promo for me, with the Smashwords link attached, they will probably buy elsewhere. In fact, I seem to get most of my sales when I tell international readers that they can avoid the $2 surcharge Amazon places on many international books by going to Smashwords.

      Insider tips? Don’t write one with seven main characters – it will drive you crazy.

  4. Thanks for the honest post, David. I began a downward slump in August, even with a new release in July. I attribute part of that to having been out of the loop, due to an accident, and there were other factors. But I’ve almost finished a new novel, and I plan to get it out in time for Christmas.

    Some things are controllable and some are not. As you point out, it’s important to look at the big picture and continue to write. I’ve also reconsidered my process. Writing historical novels requires a lot of research and is time consuming. I decided to break a complicated book into a trilogy. The books will be shorter, but I should be able to write them faster, because I’m familiar with the characters, the setting and the story. It’s an experiment. Right now, everything is an experiment.

    You’ve created an amazing platform in a few short months. Hell, I saw Joe Konrath quote YOU in his blog! Pretty cool. Keep up the great work. I know I will. See you down the road!

    Suzanne

    • Hey Suzanne,

      Good to have you back. Historicals are a LOT of research. And the readers are unforgiving if the tiniest detail is wrong. They probably aren’t the most time-effective thing to write as an indie, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

      I’m considering splitting my book (it’s 100k now, but could be 120k by the time I’m finished editing) into two as well. There may be a natural break in the middle. If I do, I might sell each for $2.99 and do an omnibus edition for $4.99. Not sure yet. Good luck with your book!

      Dave

  5. Thank you for sharing! I think sales have been slow for a lot of indie authors but it should start to pick up again in the near future. I guess the key is to write no matter what. Keep working on new books and get them out into the world.

    Nice article.

  6. Hey David! I’m sure the sales will pick-up. Right now I’m working on a post about how most self-publishers feel they have to keep pumping out new product every month and what that means to new authors (who don’t have a big backlist to draw upon) or authors who simply don’t write a new novel every month. Does self-publishing successfully mean sacrificing quality to pump out quantity, etc. It’s interesting stuff to discuss for sure…

    • There is pressure, for sure. But for me at least, it’s mostly internal. I think writers of a series might get a bit from their fans if there is a delay on the next book, but it’s not something I’ve ever experienced.

      Most self-publishers are aware that increasing the amount of titles you have out is good for business in all sorts of ways. And the dramatic seasonality of the market may pressure some into rushing something out for the holidays. But this is the way I look at it: my name is my brand. If I put out sub-standard work, I will poison those readers against that brand forever. If I only publish great stories, professionally done, they will buy everything I write.

      So yeah, if you have a short term focus, you might be tempted to rush something out. However, if you are taking a longer term view, if you are trying to build a career rather than have a quick hit, you need to resist that pressure and only give readers your very best.

      In answer to your question, you might have more immediate “success” by pumping stuff out, but you will damage the trust you have built up with readers if you give them sub-standard stuff and it will hurt you long-term.

      • Yeah, I’m definitely a big believer in quality over quantity — but there definitely seems to be this vibe in some circles that you just have to get your name on as much product as possible, no matter what, which I think is the wrong way of looking at the situation…!

      • I think readers are more forgiving with short stories (if they have read them before). They know it’s normal enough for writers to try something a little different or to color outside the lines a little. I don’t think a reader will cross you off their list if they read a short they don’t like.

        But for novels, the investment of money and, more importantly, time is much greater and a dud can lead a reader to swear never to buy anything with your name on it again.

        I have a novel that I have been dying to publish since June. I’m sure it would do okay as is and it was attracting interest from a few agents. But I know it can be so much better. I owe it to myself and my readers to give them my best work.

        I know what you are saying; some writers seem to think it’s all about the number of titles they have up, and maybe don’t let a story stew for a while to see if it’s missing any ingredients. I think there is a big danger with that – especially for writers who are just starting out.

  7. Adam Pepper says:

    Brian, sounds like an interesting blog piece. I’ll be looking for it. The current market may favor the prolific writers, but it’s a fool who rushes their work to the marketplace.

    • Thanks, Adam! Hopefully I’ll actually get around to posting it sooner than later — I’m very interested to see what others think. But it’s not quite there yet… and ’tis the busy season at the day job for the next couple of months, of course! 🙂

  8. “I owe it to myself and my readers to give them my best work.”

    David, that should be the motto of everyone who writes. 🙂

    • Damon J Courtney says:

      I absolutely agree. With one caveat for new writers afraid of taking the leap. Fear of writing a crappy book and/or fear of everyone hating it even if it is good is, I think, what keeps all of us from calling it ready and throwing it over the wall. I’m sure some of you have something in a drawer somewhere you never pulled the trigger on because you just didn’t think it was your best.

      When I expressed my fears about my first book to my editor, he said something that really helped me push through.

      “No matter how hard you try, this will not be the best book you can write. But when we’re done, it will be the best book you can write right now.”

      • I think every author experiences nerves on releasing a book, no matter how many times they have done it.

        Self-doubt comes with the territory. That, liver problems, and a bad back.

      • Hey Damon, did you used to have a blog? What type of books are you writing?

      • Damon J Courtney says:

        I setup on WordPress, but I haven’t posted anything yet. I really should. It’s not that I’m absolutely NOT going to promote my books as they come out, it’s just not my primary concern.

        When I do start blogging, it will most likely not be about being an author or for authors. As much as I enjoy the topic, I think guys like David really have it covered there. 0-]

      • I think that’s a smart move. If you can find something to talk about that allows you to share your mutual passions with your target audience, then that’s really the way to go. I’ll have a column on Indie Reader on just that topic in the next day or so.

      • Damon J Courtney says:

        Oh, and I write fantasy. As in elves and wizards and dragons and such. Or at least, that’s what I hope to write. As I have nothing published yet (self or otherwise), you could say that I currently write for my wife. But she totally thinks I’m awesome.

        My mom says I’m cool, but she has no interest in reading my book. Can you believe that? My own freakin’ mom. Man.

      • I have it the other way around. My mom reads everything and my better half… not so much. And she reads too. Everything from Bukowski to Burroughs🙂

      • A blog of your interests — that also might intersect with your readers’ interests — is an excellent way to go, in my opinion. Let me know when your blog does go live so I can follow your posts. I’d definitely like to know more about your books (when they’re ready for public consumption!)

      • Damon J Courtney says:

        Well, I suppose at this stage of my life, my wife has a more vested interest in my success than my mother does. My wife had to budget real, actual money for an editor and cover artist. She’s got stake in this game, so to speak. As far as my mother’s concerned, I’m already successful, so what’s with this writing thing you’re wanting to do?

        I announced to her on the same day that I had built a website and written a novel. She was WAY more impressed with the Pauper’s Book Club, which took me 3 days to build, than with the novel, which took me 3 months to write! But then, this is the same woman who, back when I was a theatre arts major, told me, “That’s nice and all, but you should really pursue that computer thing. Just to have something to fall back on.”

        Well, score one for Mom, I suppose, since I’m pretty happy with my life as a software guy, but come on! When your kid comes up and says, “Dad, I wanna’ be an astronaut!” Who turns around and says, “No freakin’ way. You’re not good enough. Have you thought about an accountant?”

        It might be true, but you shouldn’t say it!

      • Yeah, there’s totally a better way to sell that profession.

        “Hey, son, that’s a great idea. But the competition for NASA is really tough and you won’t be able to get loaded, like, at all. If you become an accountant, and you turn out as smart as I think you will, you will spend 20 years helping CEOs hide their money from taxmen and ex-wives and you will be so rich that you will be able to buy your own SPACE STATION.”

  9. David — absolutely… having first readers who don’t just pat you on the back and tell you how neat it is that you’re a writer is a must for everyone.

    Of course, in the end, I think it would be wise to accept that some books just aren’t meant to be published. I know others feel differently and say once it’s done, just send it out there on Amazon and see what happens, but as a writer, I think you should know the difference between “this is as good as I can do right now AND readers will get something from this” and “this is as good as I can do right now AND readers are going to feel ripped off.” Because there is a big difference. I think sending a bad book out there because it’s “as good as it can be” is a mistake, but there is a real culture of instant gratification among writers online these days…

    An example of why trunk novels can be good for you… Stephen King wrote 5 books before Carrie and I firmly believe if any or all of them had been published, he might have taken a very different path as a writer and probably would had have a career that fizzled and burned out with him still teaching high school English. Carrie probably wouldn’t even have been written, in fact, because he would have been focused on writing a new novel “like” the previous novels and would not have had the time for such a strange little story…

    So sometimes the first book you write ends up in a drawer where it belongs… Just my two cents, of course!

    • You really don’t want to see the first book I tried to write…

      • HA, I *won’t* show you my first book if you *don’t* show me yours…😉

        But it was good experience with many lessons learned, right? Some people really do explode out of the gate with an amazing first novel — but most of us have to keep plugging away to learn the craft. Either way, as long as you’re having fun and enjoying the process, it’s a good thing, right?

      • Heh. It’s funny, I’ve been thinking about it recently. I think there is a kernel of a good idea in there, but I would have to start from scratch. I think I would keep the title. That’s it. And maybe publish under a pen-name, just in case.

  10. Ellis Shuman says:

    David = don’t forget that I reviewed your book in August, and that most certainly helped push up sales that month!🙂

  11. James says:

    I like your take on the change in Amazon algorithms. Amazon arranges it so that (like Google) the algorithm is opaque. It has to be–otherwise, people would try and game it more, like they do in the (often silly) culture of SEO and Google. Google’s changed the rules multiple times, and the “golden days” of SEO get-rich-quick schemes are largely over.

    But this seemingly esoteric thing–the “Amazon algorithm”–shows an important dependency for authors, and therefore a major weakness. Since most self-publishers depend almost entirely on Amazon (c’mon now, everybody knows this), Amazon holds nearly all the cards. They also own the card table, manufacture the chips, and deal the cards carefully. All authors get to do is buy into the game–without knowing the odds, or what’s exactly in the deck, or the all the rules of the game.

    I’d like to learn more about Amazon’s algorithm, though. Thanks for posting this.

    • Yes, it’s definitely a troubling notion for everyone — publishers and authors — that Amazon has so much power, etc. Hopefully B&N or Apple or Sony or Kobo will really start competing and level the playing field a bit for everyone. B&N’s eBook people are great to work with, and PubIt is easy for any self-publisher, but Apple and Sony have given me a lot of gray hairs these last 6 months as I’ve been working to get 50 new eBooks for work published on all of the major sites. (Kobo hasn’t been as bad as Sony and Apple, but their system is still nowhere as easy as Amazon’s system, either.)

      • Hey, at least they let you in the game. Barnes & Noble don’t allow internationals. Apple require me to have a mac (no thanks). And Sony and Kobo don’t allow my kind (self-publishers) in at all. I need to go through Smashwords which (a) costs me money and (b) costs me sales due to the inability to tweak my blurbs (or format them properly) and reduced visibility because I didn’t go direct. Even when I do actually sell something there, I have no idea when it happened, or what caused it – I get zero useful feedback on promo efforts.

        Amazon make it easy for me to make money. The others make it hard.

    • There is a self-publisher called Debora Geary who knows more about the Amazon algorithm then anyone else I’ve heard. I’ll try and dig up the Kindle Boards thread where she made a number of fascinating posts on her strategy.

      And yes, many authors depend almost exclusively on Amazon for sales, especially outside of erotica and romance; writers of those genres sometimes report even greater sales on Barnes & Noble than Amazon. That aside, your point holds. However, I am seeing a greater awareness of the need to develop alternative sources of sales revenue. A few months ago, it wasn’t unusual to see a thread or a post asking if it was worth bothering to list on Smashwords. I haven’t seen one like that for a while. And discussions on things like direct sales from your website have moved from skepticism to a practical ways to go about it. Even Scott Nicholson’s radical idea on translations got way less resistance than I expected.

      So, it’s changing a little. Which is good. But I also understand where it comes from. Our time is limited. And if you are writing a lot (and working too), your promo time will be very limited. It’s simply much easier to market to Kindle owners, and the return on such efforts is far greater. Plus Amazon make it a lot easier for us too. They don’t build storefronts which reduce the visibility of our books, they don’t cook the “bestseller” lists to keep us out, and they give us the tools to present ourselves professionally. It’s a relatively level playing field.

  12. Pete says:

    Great stuff, David. Here’s toasting a corresponding spike in October.

  13. Red Tash says:

    David, I was in the same boat with This Brilliant Darkness. My second book is much lighter, and only has two characters to quantum leap in and out of. You are the first debut author I’ve discovered besides myself who has had this problem. I don’t think anyone can understand how much heavy lifting it is until they try it.

    Thanks for sharing your insights on the rest, as usual.

  14. I’m with you on the need to write more, faster. It always comes back to that.

  15. Stefan says:

    David – Thanks for putting the information out there. What I’m missing is information about the free pdf (may have overlooked it). Am I right in assuming that there was an almost similar slump in downloads?

    From a reader’s pov Smashwords is only good when you know what you’re looking for (a specific author or title). Browsing it is not much fun. I’ve been waiting for months for them to improve that aspect, but nothing’s happening. On the other hand, once you’ve found & bought something the multiple formats choice, enabling repeated downloads, is how it should be in a reader-centred world.

    • Hey Stefan – agreed on Smashwords.

      I forgot to include stats on the free PDF downloads – thanks for reminding me. It has now been downloaded 2,500 times which is phenomenal. That is only the downloads I can measure. I have no idea how many people have copied, emailed, and shared the PDF. I know of at least one place where it is available for download (for free) elsewhere. I know several people that copied it and sent it on to a bunch of friends. So I have no real idea how far it has spread. I’ve sold almost 700 copies of Let’s Get Digital and received $175 in donations, meaning it has raked in $1,600 in just under ten weeks (or around $500 profit). Not bad at all. If I had five books out doing that well, I would be doing grand.

  16. Count me among the “write faster” crowd. I’m on pace to finish my third complete novel this year, but I keep feeling like I should produce more, maybe some novella-length stories or this WWII thriller that I really want to work on (instead of my Thomas & Mercer contracted stuff, that is). Unfortunately, there’s only so much I can do without the rest of your life falling apart at the same time.

  17. I don’t see why people are so worried about Amazon controlling the game. No one worried when a a mere handful of publishers controlled the game–everyone understood it and played by it and worshiped it. Hell, 98 percent of the writing advice was about how to get an agent so you could have access to actual rejection.

    We tend to forget how incredibly easy it is now–I think it’s that expectation (built on the legend of half a dozen spectacular and well-publicized successes) that has made everyone so worried and, frankly, unhappy. Because now success seems like a promise or entitlement. Anytime I get stressed, I just say to myself, “Where were you two years ago? You were totally incapable of even imagining such historic opportunity. These are the good times.”

    So maybe one or two months are down. But they are a hell of a long way up from zero!

    • I can’t speak for anyone else, but my worry is simple. Amazon only bumped the royalty rate up to 70% when Apple entered the game. Without competition, rates could go south again.

      That’s it really…

      But if that’s the worst case scenario – rates dropping, even to 35% again, it’s not the end of the world. I’ll just have to write twice as fast, and believe me, the pace I am going at this month, that’s totally doable🙂

      • James says:

        My worry too. And equally likely is a lowering of royalty coupled with extreme downward pressure on self-published title prices (from consumers).

  18. James says:

    I don’t see why people are so worried about Amazon controlling the game. No one worried when a a mere handful of publishers controlled the game

    Scott, I think people did worry but didn’t have options. Now, some worry that they may not have options again. Unless you pretend that the world will remain static, why not discuss and prepare for possible change (like Amazon changing the rules)?

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