Ebook Death Revisited

I’m taking a leave from Indie publishing. I’ll be back in the Summer or Fall of 2013 with a new book. I leave you with my most popular blog of 2012. The Five Stages of Ebook Death.

I think it is important for us indie authors to recognize the five stages of ebook death, so we can make proper burial arrangements and then move on in life, no doubt hardened by the experience.

Regarding the burial, I suggest downloading a dead ebook on to a thumbdrive and then interring it in your garden, perhaps with along with a scoop of fresh manure. If you live in the city, I suggest a traditional toilet flush while listening to Danny Boy on your iPod, not the Johnny Cash version. Cremation followed by spreading the ashes at a Barnes and Noble is also and option, if you can find a Barnes and Noble that is still in business.

Based on my experience the death process starts with one month of no sales, and is then followed by months of anguish which can be broken into the following clearly defined stages:

Stage 1: Denial (1 month of no sales)

My book can’t really suck. I’m so smart. It took me so long to write it. Maybe nobody has bought it because they’re too busy. Yeah, that’s it. They’re too busy. I can still get a couple of positive reviews. It can still go viral. Maybe a movie star will read my book and talk about it on Oprah. Yeah, that’s my ticket, Oprah!

Stage 2: Anger (2 months of no sales)

Readers suck. They are so f’n stupid. They only read books about vampires in love and the great battles of World War 2. Amazon is a f’n monopoly that only cares about the big authors. Apple sucks. Microsoft sucks. Democrats suck. Republicans suck. In fact people suck in general.

Stage 3: Bargaining (3 months of no sales)

Dear Mr. Bezos, I’ll list my book for free on Amazon.com, if you agree to make me a best-selling author. If not, I’m off to Apple.com…Mr. Bezos, is that you laughing?

Stage 4: Depression (4 months of no sales)

I suck. I’m so f’n stupid for spending one thousand hours writing a piece of trash that nobody wants to read. How could I be such an f’n idiot. I should have listened to my wife when she told me not to write a book about the joy of refrigerator repair.

Stage 5: Acceptance (5 months of no sales)

I have a great idea for my next book!


Free Reviewed

A year ago I wrote a blog saying “Too Much Free is Bad.” In it I claimed free ebooks would increase supply, thus lower demand for non-free titles, thus book prices in general. I think this has happened. But now, I also think free, bad or not, is here to stay. And, I also believe free is the only way an indie author can attract a few initial readers. Being so, I’m running some trials to assess the factors that cause readers to select a free ebook. In my first test I ran three of my ebooks on Amazon.com to assess the importance of reviews in attracting an audience. I offered each ebook free for 2 days. I did no marketing, not even a single tweet. The first ebook was a 7,000 word short story called THE JESUS TWIN. It had no reviews. It attracted 1 download over a 2 day period. Awesome! Next was THE GENERAL STORE. It is a 50,000 word novel. It also had no reviews, (probably because folks are being kind). It received 110 downloads. I then offered my novel, THE WALKING MAN. It has 18 reviews, mostly five stars. It has 10 hours to go. It has received 550 downloads…

This is a small sample, but it would seem to indicate reviews are a lead factor in a free download decision. I think this means readers are not just stuffing their kindles with free ebooks just because they’re free. It appears readers are being selective, which would indicate many “buyers” intend to read their free downloads, or at least check them out. I think this is a good sign. Of course, there is Jan at Goodreads.com. She is downloading free ebooks at an amazing rate. With 7000 books on her “to-read” shelf, if Jan was welded to her reading chair today (and fed intravenously) she’d have to live to be 130 to clear out her library. God speed Jan.

Ebook Advertising for Dummies

I’m writing this blog after being awake for a 36 hours because I have to make money, which requires me to talk to people from around the world… arrogant bastards that refuse to live on USA time. So, if this blog makes no sense I apologize in advance. Hey, somewhere back in time I promised to run an ebook advertising trial and report my findings to my fellow indie authors.

Before running my test I read JA Konrath’s blog about how to sell books etc. He basically advises to avoid advertising at all cost. The only better advice I know of is not bathe with an electrical appliance.

My test indicates ebook advertising is a profound waste of money. Advertising may make you feel like an author, in much the same way that buying office furniture makes one feel like a businessman, but ultimately it will just make you poorer, which is a bad thing in countries that don’t reward profligate spending with food stamps.

I have to say on the list of wasting money Stumble Upon, in my book, is number one. Instead of spending money at Stumble Upon, I’d suggest simply tossing a handful of twenties out your car window, preferably in a the bad side of town because watching the 47%, i.e.,the rabble, scramble for free money will momentarily make you feel like Mitt Romney which is a feeling infinitely more satisfying than being molested by a Dallas Cowboy’s cheerleader, or perhaps, your favorite Sesame Street muppet – if you’re into that sort of thing. Geez, I seem to be losing my train of thought, ahhh back to ebook advertising. Yeah Stumble Upon…After you load up your Stumble Upon account with money you are asked if you want to target an audience or let the Stumble wizard do it for you. These questions are poorly worded for what Stumble Upon really meant to ask was, Would you like us to steal your money instantly or over a five minute time frame? I went with the instant option and within nanoseconds my web site was hit with a wave of traffic, none of which read a single page on my blog. I hate to think the worst of shaky entities, but I have a feeling some of my Stumble Upon visitors may have been widget-based life forms.

Although I could not ultimately determine any difference in their service second to Stumble Upon is Google and Facebook. I say Goog and Face are slightly better than Stumble Upon because they put you through an ad approval process before stealing your money, which makes you feel like less of an asshole. Google is world class at this ruse, you’ll be admonished for using capital letters in your ad and then a key word wizard will infer you’re dumber than a lamp post before suggesting a $65 per click key word to sell your $1 ebook. Facebook is based on demographics, so you can specify the group of people that will steal your money. You’ll also get a fancy bar graph that shows you that 0.003375897959% of the people that viewed your ad clicked on it, which, in case you were wondering, is the exact percent of people high on crystal meth in the USA at a given moment.

So, what’s a mother to do? If you want to sell one book and you have one hundred dollars to waste advertise on Goodreads.com. Otherwise, I suggest using social media to generate followers, which then may buy your book if you don’t spam and have something interesting or nice to say now and then. It’s not an instant process, but selling a book is not like selling car insurance, after all your not just asking people for 15 minutes of their time…

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