AMAZON IS MY PUBLISHER BUT…
I am Director of Marketing for Trilka Press, the imprint that publishes my books, and may some day publish other writers (don’t hold your breath quite yet).
I am the PR department, as well. All of it. And the Art Department. And IT. And Housekeeping and Bookkeeping and Landscaping and…
I am in charge of all financial decisions; we are still at the venture capital stage (me), so I’m VP of Finance.
All self-publishers are entrepreneurs by definition. We make all the decisions which affect us, except for those made by our printer and distributor (in my case, only Amazon – changing that will require work I don’t have time for now, but it’s on the very-long To Do list of the CEO and COO of Trilka Press (again, me)).
Advertising is solely my responsibility at the end of 2021
If I want to advertise (takes time and effort away from writing), I choose the venue (Amazon, FaceBook, and, in one horrible expensive decision years back, the PAW (the Princeton Alumni Weekly), which I was allowed to advertise in as a former staff member – circulation 90K prime potential readers – cost >$600, RoI = $0).
And I set up the ads. And pay for them. And fulfill all the requirements of timing – and due diligence. I should have asked PAW for some statistics – it turns out that particular advertising section, published twice a year, is filled with other self-publishers and some perennials, and is probably not a good place to peddle fiction by unknown authors who get a tiny number of words to hawk their wares. Duly noted.
So, like all of us, I spend some time managing promotion for myself (I know, sounds so tacky!). Or I’m depending on the kindness of strangers, which is erratic.
You get over it when you realize you want readers, readers in general have been conditioned to be wary of SPAs (self-published authors), and it’s up to you.
If you happen to be lucky, or go viral in some way, good.
Don’t count on it.
Even in the pushy real world, most overnight sensations have been at it for at least ten years. Or are connected. Or know something about somebody (just kidding!).
The power and control are heady – and scary!
Unlike many indies, I am not solely supported by my writing (a good thing!). But I also don’t want to write only for myself, at least not past this trilogy, because it is an incredible amount of work, takes all my available energy, and I worry about leaving fans hanging if something happens to me during the (very long) time it takes me to write something to my standards – and don’t want them to see how far below that I start.
Twenty-one years so far – and the final book will consume at least my next five years.
This little win I just received – the lovely and letter-perfect review from Jennifer Jackson at Indies Today – showed me how much encouragement affects my ability to focus. Duly noted again – but it’s not the kind of thing you can say, even to friends: “Please tell me something nice about my writing.”
I do my part for other writers, and they have been wonderful, but modesty and not-bragging were ingrained in my generation by our parents, whose generation fought WWII, and had their priorities pretty straight by the end of it, in many ways. Did they overdo it? Probably. All parents do, no matter how perfect we think we are.
But I digress…
I generally avoid low-price sales
How can conditioning people to expect something for almost nothing be a functional business model?
Someone commented recently that most free or 0.99 downloaded books are NEVER read.
The exception is the books which somehow get read, and make the reader a fan who then purchases or borrows from library or streaming service the author’s other books.
And up until now I didn’t have other books.
The exceptions I can live with include:
- Sales to raise a book’s rank (for Search Engines)
- Sales to promote a series which already exists
- Sales to promote a launch
- Sales to capture any remaining market for a bestseller already out a while
- Or sales to take advantage of a blip
In other words, sales which have an expected (or hoped for) return on investment. That investment can be considerable, and the return is not guaranteed, but, for example, most writers mention in writing groups (self-selected) that they’re happy with BookBub deals and get a significant bump from them. ‘Loss leader’ I believe the marketing folk call it. BookBub doesn’t lose, authors who don’t do well hope maybe next time, and readers get bargains or freebies.
I’ve noticed Netflix keeps raising its prices. Because ‘give stuff away free’ is not sustainable. And Amazon and Facebook make money from the ads. But authors who don’t get that boost might be subsidizing the whole experiment.
Anyhoo – moving right along – BUY!
If you have a business reason for a sale, you will eventually learn which ones work.
Amazon is being very efficient these days: the $0.99 price took less than an hour to show up today, so THE 0.99 E-BOOK SALE is on. At least until four days after January 14, 2022, when my first Hello Books promotion will be over. The price will then return to $9.99.
PLEASE take advantage of the timing – I am hoping for a bump in ranking which might help later, and followers who might be interested in NETHERWORLD.
If you go to PURGATORY‘s page, I would appreciate it if you scroll down to the Editorial Reviews and tell me what you think of the new version – I modeled it on The Goldfinch‘s ER, and Amazon was very responsive as I worked on changes – an hour or so instead of their published ‘3 to 5 business days.’ Much appreciated, because it is almost impossible to get those things right the first time, and it took me three iterations.
The probability of a lower price is minuscule – I think ‘FREE’ doesn’t work for my kind of author and book.
[NOTE: The paperback is not on sale any more (Amazon was playing with it).]
Really looking forward to your comments – readers and writers. How does any of the above reflect your experience?
And if you are interested in NETHERWORLD, but haven’t popped over to the books’ site to Follow it, now is a good time to guarantee you hear about things like sales.