Welcome to Biting-Edge, a blog shared by authors and vampire experts, Mario Acevedo and Jeanne Stein. We’ll cover urban fantasy, vampires, pop culture, and all things Joss Whedon. Unlike other fantasy blogs, we don’t insist on body cavity searches (unless you ask politely). Snarkiness is most welcome...though we won't promise not to bite back!

Sunday, September 23, 2012
  It's about the numbers
Mario here:

If you're a writer, you are about deafened by all the shouting and caterwauling regarding ebooks and the future of publishing (always expressed in Apocalyptic simpering). There's no doubt that publishing has definitely changed, both bad and good for us writers.

On the bad side: For most novelists, the multiple book contract is dead, and a series limps along based on the sales of the last book. Advances for even established, bestselling authors are shrinking, often to half or a quarter of what they were five years ago.

On the plus side: The continuing growth of ebooks allows the writer to circumvent the previous roadblock for self-publishing--the distributor. Before ebooks, if you self-published you had to fork over tens of thousands for hard copies of the books and then find a distributor to market them (and a bookstore willing to shelf them). Now you don't need any hard copies and through Amazon, Barnes & Noble's Nook, etc., your book has the potential to reach a huge and growing audience.

The big however for self-published ebooks remains that you still have to market them.

One golden marketing tactic was Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing Select program. The premise behind this tactic was that you'd offer free downloads of your book for a day or two to build buzz, and thousands of free downloads later, you'd put the book back on sale, then Ka-Ching! those thousands of freebies would translate into thousands of sales. But the ease of self-publishing means there's a glut of manuscripts available that should have never gone further than the trash folder.  Now offering free downloads doesn't always work, and with the glut of bad free books, seems to work even less.

Forbes provides a welcome and factual analysis of how well free downloads have worked to market a book. Read the article here.

The most sobering statistic?

Weekly average a book sold before free loads--5.  Weekly average AFTER free downloads--49.

Hardly day job quitting money.

But not so fast. I personally know two writers who have earned enough from ebooks to quit their day jobs. And several others who have rejuvenated their careers after getting jerked around in traditional publishing. 

So what works? Marketing is governed by several proven principles, but applying marketing is an art, not a science. What worked yesterday may not work today. What works now may not work tomorrow. Elle Lothlorien shares her experience pimping ebooks and the need to remain nimble in your approach.

One commonly repeated tenet is that the best marketing tool is to write a good book. But what does that mean? I have writer friends who have written splendid books, and those books simply not have gained the attention and sales they deserve.

And so to pimp two deserving writer pals we have:

From Publishers Lunch:

"New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author CJ Lyons's BROKEN, where a critically ill teenage girl discovers that other teens are coming down with the same sickness, and the illness may not be what it seems to Leah Hultenschmidt at Sourcebooks by Barbara Poelle at Irene Goodman Agency. (world English) Foreign Rights: Heather Shapiro at Baror International."

Plus this very nice article about YA and mystery writer Jess Lourey. Like, or better yet, buy The Toadhouse Trilogy, Book One.










Lastly! Sound the alarm!

The University of Doom website is finally up. Mad science. Evil genius. Schemes and inventions gone very wrong. Plus awesome Lego videos.



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Comments:
Good blog Mario...thanks...and thanks for link to the Forbes piece...it raises thoughts about another provocative question...reviews by Amazon readers...how they may effect book sales...and if they mean anything in real life...particularly if they are poorly written positive or not...
 
Interesting blog, Mario. In my experience if you have a novel in a popular genre/sub-genre, self-pubbing can be worthwhile. If the book was a hard sell to traditional publishers because of the genre, it may also be a hard sell with readers on-line. Also, 49 books a week doesn't sound like much, but if you have multiple titles available, at 70% royalties, it does add up.
 
J.L.: Good comments. Thanks for stopping by.
Mary: Very good point about multiple titles. Thanks.
 
You are a king among men, Mario. Thanks for the bump. Also, I hear from my friends who are making a go of self-pubbing that series are the way to make it work. The first doesn't sell more, but once the second is out, the first shoots up, and once you have three out, well, the sky is the limit. Or not. :) We keep trying.
 
Jess: Me a king? Not even a prince. I'll stick with panglima. We at Biting-Edge have the mojo machine cranked at maximum for you and Toadhouse.
 
Changes in publishing are definitely putting things up in the air right now. In some ways fewer opportunities, in other ways more. Great post, thanks!
 
PPW: Thanks for the props.
 
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