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Dhewco
01-18-2016, 10:39 PM
Hi,

David here, I'm almost ready to release my novel Humanity. I've done an exhaustive content edit (you know, for names that don't match up, no 'gun on the shelf' issues, characters sounding too close together...stuff like that) that I'm 7 chapters from finishing. I'm going to do another edit for stuff like 'there' and 'your' issues. I've bought cover art that I'm reasonably pleased with, at least for what I paid for it. I'm going to upload it around Valentine's day (it's just going to end up that way, no holiday theme).

So, I've got family and facebook lined up to buy it. I've given them the back blurb and they say it's something they want to read. I'm crossing my fingers on that one. Anyhoo, my question is about freebies. A lot of the threads recommend giving it out for free at first. I'm going to be blunt. I love my book, but it's about an heir (not immediate, 9th in successsion) who gets injected with nanites that retard his aging. I'm thinking it's a cross between Peter Pan and Ender's Game. I'm not sure what the wider audience is for that kind of book.

An issue is the few beta readers said that the fact that the characters assumed the antagonist had pervy reasons for the nanites threw them off. They immediately assumed it was going to have sex abuse themes. It doesn't, but the assumptions of the auxilliary characters is an important part of the tension that builds later. I had to add a prologue so that readers would know that it wasn't about that.

Geez, I'm just bouncing around. Okay, here's the straight-up question. Is it essential to do the freebie right away, or can I wait a few weeks to see what my family and friends think? (and they pay my 2.99 price. I need the pennies I might get, lol.)

David Hewitt

PS. The Imperial constitution has a loophole that requires the Emperor to be physically old enough to actually reign. Mental age is deemed too subjective. The Chancellor assumes that he would be Regent and Chancellor if his goons kill the Emperor and everyone down to Edgar. That's the real reason for the nanites. The Chancellor allows the pervy rumours to abound to hide his assassin plots.

M. H. Lee
01-18-2016, 11:13 PM
There is absolutely no requirement that you start off a new book free. I've launched 90 titles and never done so. Especially if you have family and friends lined up to buy it at full price I wouldn't do that. They buy the book, others see it, find it interesting, and also buy it. With real money.

Personally, I think free should only be used in a few circumstances:
1. As an intro to your writing where there's the rest of a series or more books for readers to buy if they like the first one.
2. As a way to attract attention and lead to people borrowing the book through KU (so only if you're Amazon exclusive) with the intent of coming off of free with a paid ranking higher than before you started the promo.

Don't just give away your work without a reason for doing so.

Also...if you don't advertise that a book is for free, it's sometimes hard to get it any attention. So you end up paying to give away your book. If you really, really want a lot of people to read the book up front, then do a 99 cent launch and advertise it like nobody's business. (See kboards, search for Pauline Ross or Salvador Mercer, both did launches late last year using that strategy.) Keep in mind that the payout difference between 99 cents and $2.99 means a lot of money left on the table.

Dhewco
01-18-2016, 11:34 PM
I can't really pay for advertisement. All I have are FB, Twitter, and the various websites and blogs I correspond regularly on. (and my crit group) Thanks for the reply.

Polenth
01-18-2016, 11:45 PM
I tried the free-at-launch thing with one title. Overall, it made no difference to sales. The paid sales next month were the same as first month sales for non-free titles. An interesting experiment, but not something I'd do for future titles. I'm surprised anyone is giving this as must-do advice for any new book, as it's likely not to do anything for you.

Dhewco
01-19-2016, 12:15 AM
What prompted the question was Fionnjameson's post about the free promotion thing. I realize it's from 2013 and that book was a different genre, but I thought 10000 free downloads! 26 buys out of that. LOL, that's a lot of people reading. I thought I'd ask what people thought. My goal is to have this on Amazon in February and figured I'd ask before I ran myself out of time.

Abderian
01-19-2016, 08:34 AM
A disadvantage of offering your book for free is that you don't appear on other books' Also Bought lists, because nobody is actually buying your book. But without additional promotion you're unlikely to have many free downloads or sales anyway, so the question is kind of moot. The self-publishing world has changed a lot since 2013.

FionnJameson
01-19-2016, 12:08 PM
What prompted the question was Fionnjameson's post about the free promotion thing. I realize it's from 2013 and that book was a different genre, but I thought 10000 free downloads! 26 buys out of that. LOL, that's a lot of people reading. I thought I'd ask what people thought. My goal is to have this on Amazon in February and figured I'd ask before I ran myself out of time.

LOL, wow! Did not expect to see my name here :O As for getting your family and friends to buy your books, that is awesome! I think I need to disown mine and ditch all my friends because none of them bought my new book.

Honestly, I wouldn't make the first book free until you have a second book to back it up and then maybe make that book perma-free. You'd have to take it off Kindle Select, but from the data I've seen, it could be worth it.

M. H. Lee
01-19-2016, 11:17 PM
What prompted the question was Fionnjameson's post about the free promotion thing. I realize it's from 2013 and that book was a different genre, but I thought 10000 free downloads! 26 buys out of that. LOL, that's a lot of people reading.

Keep in mind that 2013 was a VERY different market than today's. Very different.

To get 10,000 free downloads now you'd probably need a BookBub or a lot of stacked promos (and I'm not even sure stacked promos would get you there).

I just ran a promo that netted me about 5,000 downloads of a free novel and 8 sales after that. Cost me $105 to do. That same book without advertising? Might've had a hundred downloads. Probably less. When too many people use a strategy, it loses some of its effectiveness. And Amazon has, I believe, adjusted its algorithms and ranking lists since 2013 to dampen the impact of freebies.

(BTW, looks like the promo I ran will pay for itself with KDP Select page reads, but I still don't think I'd do that for a new novel. And if I did, I'd do it with LOTS of promo to back it up. It's very depressing to run a book for free and see only a few downloads.)

Dhewco
01-20-2016, 12:24 AM
Good advice. MH. Thank you. I've written a couple other novels, but this is the only one I deem worthy of publication. One was 'shopped' by a less-than-reputable agent and I consider it burned. The only other one is a sequel to the burned one. I had another completed novel, but it's disappeared. It was an alternate history novel about Edward V (one of the 'Princes in the Tower'). I worked hard on the research for that one...even going so far as to contact people from Britain to help with photos. I have some of the research, but I think the book is lost. Somehow it didn't make the transfer to my backup drive and backup flash drive. An incomplete copy might be on an old desktop, but I can't get it to boot. I can't afford a HD caddy right now, so I have to hope it's there and wait awhile to find out.

Anyway, I'm almost finished with my thriller (that's what I'm calling it) about the teen serial killer. I'm going to try to sell it to a bigger house before I try to self publish it.

Another question: Do you think I should go ahead and work on Humanity's sequel...or let it stand alone? Most of these threads say the self-publishing business is mostly about volume (more books more money). So, should I have another book ready to go in a couple months, if I can? I tend to not do the same genre one after the other. Will that affect my success a lot? I have a time-travel YA novel a third of the way complete, another YA novel that's about a Celtic deity being reborn during a modern plague, and a heavily fictionalized memoir (basically a book about me, but with several scenes that are heavily altered to enhance drama). There are a couple of other outlines and vague ideas of novel's written down. None of which is the sequel to the novel. That's only an idea in my head.

So, should I get hard to work on the sequel once I launch? Or, is it okay to finish one of the others?

M. H. Lee
01-20-2016, 01:27 AM
Do you think I should go ahead and work on Humanity's sequel...or let it stand alone? Most of these threads say the self-publishing business is mostly about volume (more books more money). So, should I have another book ready to go in a couple months, if I can? I tend to not do the same genre one after the other. Will that affect my success a lot? I have a time-travel YA novel a third of the way complete, another YA novel that's about a Celtic deity being reborn during a modern plague, and a heavily fictionalized memoir (basically a book about me, but with several scenes that are heavily altered to enhance drama). There are a couple of other outlines and vague ideas of novel's written down. None of which is the sequel to the novel. That's only an idea in my head.

So, should I get hard to work on the sequel once I launch? Or, is it okay to finish one of the others?

My opinion? Ideally you want to go ahead and get the next novel in that series out as soon as you can. It gives you a lot more promo opportunities (like running book 1 free in the hopes that people like it so much they pay for book 2) AND people are far more likely to read the next book in the series rather than another book by you.

I have been all over the board. I have at least eight pen names, I've published non-fiction, romance, and speculative fiction. And I can say for a certainty that it did not help me one bit in terms of building an audience and gaining traction to bounce around like that. When people say write series, they really, really mean it. Until you've built credibility with your readers, they read you because the story you're telling appeals to them. No guarantee that story 2 will appeal to people who read story 1. But if you write story 2 about the same characters in story 1? Then, yeah. People will read it if they liked story 1.

Just think about it from your perspective as a reader. I have authors I love to read and I'll read an entire series back-to-back, but very few that I'll read every single thing they write. With each new series, they have to sell me on the idea before I'll touch it.

Now, I say that you should write the sequel, but...it's more important to keep moving forward. I have a novel that has good reviews and nice sales. I should be writing the sequel. But I just couldn't get started on it. So instead I polished up two old novels and got them out there. Because you just never know what might catch and some progress is better than none. So there's the ideal path (write novels in series, get them out there one after the other or even all at once) and then there's real life. Do whatever keeps you moving in the direction you want to go.

Another thought...if you're pursuing a hybrid path, you may want to keep to one niche or series with what you self-pub. Because if you do land an agent and contract, you may very well hear the question: what else do you have for us? You'll want to keep something similar to that novel in reserve to offer up.

FionnJameson
01-20-2016, 06:52 AM
Good advice. MH. Thank you. I've written a couple other novels, but this is the only one I deem worthy of publication. One was 'shopped' by a less-than-reputable agent and I consider it burned. The only other one is a sequel to the burned one. I had another completed novel, but it's disappeared. It was an alternate history novel about Edward V (one of the 'Princes in the Tower'). I worked hard on the research for that one...even going so far as to contact people from Britain to help with photos. I have some of the research, but I think the book is lost. Somehow it didn't make the transfer to my backup drive and backup flash drive. An incomplete copy might be on an old desktop, but I can't get it to boot. I can't afford a HD caddy right now, so I have to hope it's there and wait awhile to find out.

Anyway, I'm almost finished with my thriller (that's what I'm calling it) about the teen serial killer. I'm going to try to sell it to a bigger house before I try to self publish it.

Another question: Do you think I should go ahead and work on Humanity's sequel...or let it stand alone? Most of these threads say the self-publishing business is mostly about volume (more books more money). So, should I have another book ready to go in a couple months, if I can? I tend to not do the same genre one after the other. Will that affect my success a lot? I have a time-travel YA novel a third of the way complete, another YA novel that's about a Celtic deity being reborn during a modern plague, and a heavily fictionalized memoir (basically a book about me, but with several scenes that are heavily altered to enhance drama). There are a couple of other outlines and vague ideas of novel's written down. None of which is the sequel to the novel. That's only an idea in my head.

So, should I get hard to work on the sequel once I launch? Or, is it okay to finish one of the others?

I've got a bunch of projects in the wings that unfortunately have nothing to do with my newest book, a contemporary romance. However, I will push them aside and get out the sequel to THD ASAP because I really want to make the first book free and have the funds channel over to the second book. All the data points to, in the romance genre anyways, making your money with the second and subsequent books after.

Dhewco
01-24-2016, 01:56 AM
I'm thinking I might should put this in its own thread, but I was wondering of the efficacy of handouts like bookmarks and business cards. Do posting a book title on the local eatery's business card wall generate any interest, do you think? I have a decent printer and could probably buy the paper for them myself, but is it worth the time?

Abderian
01-24-2016, 10:20 AM
An ad for readers interested in your genre isn't guaranteed to sell any books, so a card on a restaurant wall isn't likely to do well. Bookmarks and business cards don't hurt, but again, selling books is about a lot more than this. I prefer bookmarks because business cards tend to get lost or put away and forgotten. A bookmark has a use, at least, and those who use it will be readers.

Dhewco
01-24-2016, 05:57 PM
I didn't think so, but since I have no money for promotion beyond what I can physically do myself (printing cards and bookmarks only require a printer and the right paper), I thought I'd ask. The restaurant wall is usually just people promoting services and I rarely see people even glance at it...but I thought rare chance someone needs a service... Of course, I don't know where I'd pass out the cards and bookmarks either. The towns around here all have ordinances against putting things in windows and I don't think it'd be worth the fine. I don't know Books-A-Million's policy on self-published book promotion, not that'd I'd be able to afford any copies of my own books.

I'll have to depend on social media for word of mouth, I guess.

David

PS Books-A-Million is the only bookstore within 70 miles.

Curlz
01-24-2016, 10:17 PM
it's about an heir .... who gets injected with nanites that retard his aging. ...I'm not sure what the wider audience is for that kind of book.
Well, when first I heard there was a novel about a "sparkling vampire", I also wasn't sure the wider audience is for that kind of book. Short descriptions tend to be deceptive ;) If your plot is intriguing on the other hand, then things really tend to blow up (like that sparkling vampire thing - it's from a little book called "Twilight", you might have heard of it). What I mean is, don't underestimate your work, just because its description sounds a bit unusual. Frankly, you had me at "nanites"!



An issue is the few beta readers said that ----
Oh, bother! Sometimes the opinion of a beta might be a bit tasteless. So, always salt them well. Sprinkle, sprinkle...



Is it essential to do the freebie right away
Sort of. It's in the consumer culture to "try before you buy". But nowhere does it say you have to give the whole thing away for free... Add an extensive (and well written) description. Don't be cryptic about the plot. Don't use empty but bombastic words. Give away a fee sample. Let the reader access a chapter for free. There is a "look in" feature on Amazon, something like that.



I tend to not do the same genre one after the other. Will that affect my success a lot?
If you are good enough to create a fanbase, there is a bigger chance they will read most of the things you write. After all, most people read books from various genres. Several million people gobble up every genre Stephen King puts out, because he's just an amazing storyteller. Are you?



Do posting a book title on the local eatery's business card wall generate any interest, do you think?
Think how you, or your friends, buy their books.

Dhewco
01-24-2016, 11:59 PM
Well, right now, I tend to buy e-books from series I know already. The only time I buy new authors is when someone I trust recommends it...or one of the rare times I drive the 40 or so miles to the BAM.