... from worrying about how to sell my books!
There is a fair bit of competition between Indie Authors out there in ebook land. And a lot of cooperation. I tap into Kindleboards regularly, the online chat room for Indie Authors, and I've learned a lot there since I first went ebook in 2010. The authors back then were all helpful and positive, and some of them have gone on to remarkable successes. Amanda Hocking, for instance. Of course, it's all in the name ...
However, I've noted that the tone of posts on Kindleboards has changed recently. There is some disillusionment as good writers producing fine books have failed to make their mark. There is a LOT of talk about marketing strategies, a lot of complaints about certain ebook outlets and their draconian rules and regulations which limit how authors can promote their work (Amazon book reviews are now subject to some ludicrous regulations), and the cost of paid promotion seems to be going up and up. Naturally, Indie Authors who want to promote their books are seen as a market to tap into by marketing bodies. Yog's Law (all money goes TOWARDS the author) doesn't seem to apply an more.
I've tried to keep up. Things in the digital world change so fast that it can make your head spin at times. Just look at the development of ebook readers. The Kindle was the big deal two years ago, but now it's tablets like the iPad which double as ereaders and handbag-size portable computers. As the technology changes, so does the way Indie Authors need to market their books.
I've just posted a thread on Kindleboards titled "Has the Free Promo bubble burst?" which has sparked a lively and very interesting discussion. Many Indies are experiencing the same sales wobbles as me. Last year was a cracking year for Free Promos and sales, and I even made a decent income from my books. I was under the illusion that I was now "established" and could cruise a bit. Then sales plummeted in February and have almost died away. I launched my third book in February, HOME TO ROOST, which I feel is my best work so far, and did the mandatory Free Promo. Hardly any downloads at all and no sales boost to follow. The sales of all three books continued to slide. I have just done a second Free Promo, using all the tools available to announce it, including paying someone which I haven't done before, and it has been a dismal failure. This is the first month where the number of sales for all three books hasn't kept up with the number of days in the month. Yikes! I was doing better than this in 2010! What is going on out there?
This morning, I sat at my computer and thought about what I could do today to boost sales. And I felt tired, just thinking about it. Now, if I was at a day job and felt this way, I'd say it was time for my annual leave. I should pack up, get on a plane with my husband and go somewhere warm and luxurious for a bit of R&R. I should eat, drink and be merry, think about anything other than work, and return to my job refreshed.
My job. Just exactly what is my job? It's to write good yarns, that's what my job is! I did not start writing in order to sell. I started writing many years ago because stories were knocking about inside my head and I wanted to tell them. I have been writing for a long time. Publishing my stories is another matter. I can do that now. I don't need a publishing house. I am my own publisher. And I LOVE that I can do that. When I first published on Lulu in 2006, I was so excited to hold my book in my hand and then put it on the bookshelf next to Umberto Eco and Shakespeare and Tolkein. I sold a few and was excited about that, too. It was enough.
Then along came Amazon KDP and Smashwords, I published as ebooks and suddenly I was selling books every day. What a thrill! Amazon introduced their KDP Select, which meant taking my books off Smashwords if I wanted to utilise the Free Promo opportunities. I did that, had a highly successful Free Promo, started selling books and making money, and somewhere in that process, I lost sight of why the hell I wrote to begin with.
So I'm grateful in a way that sales have fallen away. It's brought me back to being the author, the wordsmith, the storyteller, the artist and the creator of worlds in print (digital or paper). That is my passion, that is how I define myself. I have always hated the business end of writing, but felt I needed to master it. I tried, but it ain't working folks! From now on, I'll stick to what I do best which is telling stories and be grateful for any commercial success that happens to come my way. And if it doesn't, as long as someone out there is reading my books and enjoying them, I'm cool with that.
But in the meantime, I need that holiday. So no writing for awhile. Instead, I'm working on my family tree. Ancestry.com can have my money for now while I track down ancestors and make sense of all the family stories that I've grown up with. It's addictive and it's fascinating. And who knows, there might be a book in it!
Pity there isn't a tropical breeze and a mango daiquiri attached to Ancestry.com. If I turn up the heating and take a can of Coke Zero out of the fridge, maybe it will feel more like a holiday. Anyway, as they say, a change is as good as a holiday. And I have the luxury of not having to go back to work until I feel like it. Life is good!