A little while ago I clicked on my daily reports at Smashwords, as I do every day, to see that I had gotten a massive surge in downloads at Barnes & Noble over the last couple of days. When I clicked on the “Books” tab, I saw that Cannonball City: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year One had gotten 45 downloads yesterday and 34 today (so far). That’s the single best two days I’ve ever had at Barnes & Noble. It’s nearly doubled my total downloads since I began doing e-books last May. The only other “surge” I had with Barnes & Noble was a couple of months ago when I set The Computer Nerd‘s price at free (it isn’t free anymore, but you can still find coupons for freebies in the “Promos” tab on this site) and that was for only 13 downloads. Curious why the spike, I clicked over to Cannonball City‘s store page at Barnes & Noble to investigate.
An anonymous reader gave it five stars!
So, if you’ve ever been uncertain about whether you should read my books, now you know. Someone out there thinks I’ve got a good story to tell, so why not give that one a go? It’ll take a while to read, but odds are high you’ll enjoy it. And my mom doesn’t use the Internet or read e-books, so you can be sure the reviewer wasn’t her!
Links to the book can be found in the right margin on this site, or in the tab for Series Books > A Modern-day Fantasy Annual Series.
I don’t think this affects anyone who reads my blog, or my books for that matter, but just in case you’re part of that fringe–lucky you–take note that the subscription e-book reading service, Oyster, is closing its doors this weekend (according to the reports I’m getting), so if you’ve been reading any of my ten books on Oyster, you may want to pick them up elsewhere from now on.
Again, I don’t think this actually affects any of my readers, but I wanted to let you know in case you are affected. Try Scribd. They’re the same type of company, and they’ll still be open tomorrow, and they have all of my books.
Hope you’re having a great January. Will be back with another fun/informative blog soon.
Success is a fickle thing. It’s hard to gauge when it’ll happen and where it’ll come from, as it is near impossible to know what will bring it on. We can use all the genius we have to find it, and still somehow fail.
I was walking back from the beach when I thought about this idea of success. The Great Gatsby (1925), an “American masterpiece,” and one of the few books I’ve read more than once, was the third book in the author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s bibliography, a marginal success both in sales and critical acclaim, and had neither the out-of-the-gate popularity of his first novel, This Side of Paradise (1920), nor the heartbreaking reception of his later novel, Tender Is the Night (1934). It was basically the middle book of an author who had a declining career.
Here are some fast facts I found at Mental Floss about The Great Gatsby. Take note of fact #’s 7-9 for more relevant insight:
So why bring this up? I think it’s really easy to get discouraged when our lofty expectations are crushed under the weight of reality. But it doesn’t have to mean anything. Sometimes success requires time, or a change in understanding, or a change in approach. James Dyson, founder of Dyson (a company that makes and perfects a number of our modern conveniences, like hand dryers, for example) had to make over 5000 variations to his vacuum cleaner design before he got it right–and right it was because Dyson vacuums are awesome. That’s basically five thousand failures before one success was possible. The point is, we keep going until something sticks.
I’m writing this more for me than for the general public, but artists, like me, can be susceptible to discouragement by the weakest of critics or the flimsiest of sales if we’re not careful. Some things just take time to grow. I think it’s important to remember that a work isn’t genius if the rest of the world gets it immediately. But success can still happen at any time, for any reason. The Great Gatsby found a resurgence at the end of World War II, 20 years after it was published. Now it’s recognized as the literary classic and masterpiece we know it is today, with or without the movie adaptations. Even people like J.K. Rowling had to experience early difficulty before achieving a rousing success (read the short version of her biography if you want to see a classic example of building success out of heartbreak). Just something to think about the next time you, me, or anyone wants to take a stab at something that may or may not resonate with audiences or consumers. We don’t have to give up because we didn’t hit the ground running. Maybe we need more time for our perspective to gain respect. Maybe we need a trend to change. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing because, if it’s worth anything, someone will eventually understand where we’re coming from, appreciate our viewpoint, maybe even share it, and that, I believe, is the beginning of success.
So, now that we’re in yet another new year, it’s time to reflect on the ideas that worked in 2015, and the ones that didn’t.
Obviously, my big move in 2015 was to attempt pushing my writing hobby out into the public eye, with some possible compensation to boot. After ten releases (eleven if you count Zippywings 2015, which is just a collection of the smaller works in paperback form), over a thousand free downloads, about five dollars in royalties, and only one literally last-minute review, which was about as bad as a review can get, I feel that this experiment has been a mixed bag at best.
What I know for sure is that across ten books, I’ve gotten roughly between 1100 and 1200 downloads. Four of these downloads were for paid books. So, that breaks down to about 1:300 downloads resulting in compensation (primarily from supportive friends). My suspicion is that most of those downloads are hoard downloads, meaning they won’t get read, just stored on a computer or phone for the option of getting read. Not all, of course. But I suspect many. I don’t think this explains why no one is paying money for the $.99 – $2.99 books (though I think that has a large part of it). But I do think it explains why no one is leaving reviews anywhere. The only review I got in seven months was for the one copy of the one book that a complete stranger spent his money on. I know I tend to read books I bought sooner than I do those that I just find for free. I think this is how most readers work.
So, I think moving forward, I want to worry less about finishing all projects on my mental list, as many of them are short works that I wouldn’t want to charge anything for, and focus more on the longer works that I already have scheduled for pre-order. At least that way I can finish them. I also want to make sure I have enough time to evaluate the quality of each book in case they end up with some major problems. I still don’t think The Computer Nerd was bad at all (I do think it’s the kind of book that goes against expectations, which could be a problem on its own when it comes to proper marketing–a skill I admit is lacking). I think anyone who understands what the story actually is will appreciate it more than one who goes into thinking it’s something else. But without comprehensive feedback from a number of different types of readers, I’ll never know for sure. I just know that I like the story and think it’s pretty well-done, and I read a lot of books.
That said, I’m considering making changes to my 2016 plans. I want to do my best to get loyal readers, not just random freebie-hunters who may or may not read a word of what I’ve written, so I think I’ll be cutting down on the monthly releases this year, and even though I still plan to release short works, I may do that later. Depends on how well things go with the longer form books and how badly I need a change of pace. As of now, I don’t intend to give myself unnecessary stress over something that might not get any appreciation. I actually do take writing and storytelling seriously, even if my stories themselves like to dip into the humorous or even ridiculous from time to time.
I’d actually intended to write more on this topic, but I need a mental rest.
So, if you’ve been paying attention to this blog in the last week, you may have noticed some subtle updates or mentions about the work I’ve been doing over my Christmas vacation. If you haven’t been paying attention, then let me catch you up on some things:
1) The day after Christmas, I finally released my long-in-production series starter for A Modern-day Fantasy, called Cannonball City. Or, to put it more realistically, I released the introductory version of the story, which takes the core elements of the first three books and combines them into a single yearlong tale. It’s about a tennis star who must undergo an identity shift to keep one step ahead of the murderous stalker who’s hunting him and people like him down like dogs. It’s a free e-book at Smashwords and its distribution channels (Barnes & Noble, et al.) and clocks in at a whopping 270,000+ words. It’ll take a while to finish it, but it’s a fun journey I’ve been told. Click on its store page to check it out. The trilogy of books it’s based on will be released at a later date.
2) After seven months of e-book publishing, I’ve finally ported all of my existing titles to Amazon. Each book has its respective link already listed on its page. Click your book of preference to check it out. Note: Amazon does not allow authors to set their prices at “free,” so each free book on Smashwords costs $.99 at Amazon.
3) Not only have I ported all of my e-books to Amazon, but I’ve also made paperback editions of them. More specifically, I’ve made a paperback edition of The Computer Nerd (354 pages), retailing at $14.99, and a paperback collection of the shorter stories in a single volume called Zippywings 2015: A Short Story Collection (644 pages), retailing at $21,99. Why should you buy these instead of the cheaper e-book versions? Well, because they’re actual books you can hold and flip pages and smell and stuff. I’m still waiting for my copies, so I can’t yet vouch for the print quality, but I know they’re the best we’ll have until I gain the interest of a traditional publisher. As of now, each book can be bought at Amazon or CreateSpace. I’ve selected “Expanded Distribution” as an option, so other online retailers should have them in the next six to eight weeks. It’s why I can’t price either book any cheaper, otherwise I would. Both books can be purchased through the links provided at their respective store pages.
If you purchase any of my books, please leave a review. The more feedback I hear, the more I learn, and the better I can make my next book(s).
If you’re not sure whether to buy from Amazon or CreateSpace, let me give you a couple of facts:
Buying from Amazon will better improve my market sales rating, and will allow you to review directly on the site (something of which I need a lot of, whether positive or negative–because a comprehensive review is better than one man’s opinion). Buying from CreateSpace will give me a higher royalty. So, before you buy, decide which bonus you’d rather bestow on me (the author), publicity or royalty.
Option #3, of course, is to save your money for something you actually need.
4) I made the announcement for it yesterday, but in case you missed it, I now have a header page for “Promotions,” which will keep you informed of any specials I’m running on my books, including coupon codes. Check it out if you want to pick up my books and save money doing it.
5) I finally released the cover for my upcoming novel, Teenage American Dream. Actually, I’ve attached covers to all of the books listed in the “Future Stories” category, but the other two have already gotten covers attached to their store pages at Smashwords. As of now, Teenage American Dream is the only one that will release with its existing cover. The other two have temporary covers. They will become permanent only if my actual plans for their covers fall through.
So, that’s the summation of my busy holiday break. If I have time tomorrow, I’ll talk about my goals for 2016. Hope your New Year is off to a good start.
First off, Happy New Year. Hope you had a good one.
Secondly, I’ve added a new page to the site header for “Promotions.” Check here if you want to receive any of my books at discount. Note that coupons for unreleased books are posted in advance, but won’t be usable until the day of release. As of now, codes are available for Smashwords e-books only.
Thirdly, I have my first review of The Computer Nerd, posted yesterday! The reviewer didn’t like it, so you know I didn’t pay him off. 😉 But if you would like to form your own opinion, please check it out. For reference, the review can be read here.
Note: I appreciate getting feedback about specifics issues if you don’t like what I wrote. Helps me write a better book next time.