Topic for February: Everybody wants to write a book, but most do not.
Writing is hard work. What got you started, and what helps you get through a complete story?
How many times have you heard someone say, “Someday I’m going to write a book?” Many a time, I”m certain. However, most do not.
Why? Because writing is hard work.
What got me started? Like most children, I loved reading, drawing, and listening to the oral family history spoken by my grandparents. I also like to write stories (not particularly good stories) but for a second grader I did have a handle on the concept of plotting. Thinking back, I unnerved adults with my pointed interview questions, and thoughts about the meaning of life and life-after-death vs death-after-death. Picture: Tuesday Addams wearing glasses and constantly grumbling about receiving yet, another stupid doll instead of a filling cabinet for her birthday.
When, exactly, did I start and complete my first novel?
While I wrote short-stories, nonfiction articles for publication during my twenties, I didn’t get serious about completing a novel until thirties. My children were in school and I worked part-time. That gave me a block of free time to write (vs the scribbling on 3 x 5 index cards when I was cooking dinner or a note pad during a child’s 1 hour nap). I was serving on my church board when the choir soloist told me her sister was a co-president of the Orange County Chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America). At the time, I hadnâ€™t every thought of writing a romance. I wrote for the YA and middle school market and dabbled in historical fiction, but Shirlee convinced me that the networking and workshops would be beneficial to me. She was correct.
Attending monthly meetings/workshops, exchanging rough drafts with my critique members during lunch, and input from the multi-published members gave me the confidence to persevere. It also made me crawl out of bed after my husband left for work (at 3:00 in the morning) and write before getting my children off to school.
I also discovered that I couldn’t give up my YA stories while I found my footing in a new market.
“So, what did Connie do?” you ask.
I work two novels at once which I still do to this very day.
Crazing making? Yes!
Writing romance isn’t easy. Strong, well-developed characters, good plot (and multiple subplots), sharp dialogue, and emotion-lots of emotion.
Writing is addictive. The story unfolds, the characters present themselves, and away the writer goes into a new Universe.
What makes me complete my novel/story?
The best way for me to describe the feel is I am driven to finish the story. Native Americans say the story chooses the Storyteller. It the Storyteller’s responsibly to bring the story to life.
Happy Reading and Happy Valentine Day!
My Rodeo Romances (Lynx and Brede) are on sale this month (click on my Amazon Author Page link). Even Zombies need love. Indulge in a little Zombie Valentine Romance. For FREE!! Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow on Amazon.com
If, after reading my last two posts about advertising a KDP Select free book (the first one and the second one plus additional information here), you’re thinking that this is a beautiful upward curve toward guaranteed results…well, we’re both wrong.
Not that I thought the results would be guaranteed to continue their upward trajectory, but I didn’t realize I could have such a terrible bomb when things were going well.
Using the same book, Little Miss Lovesick, I made my third 5-days-free promo during my third 90-day KDP Select period on October 21-25, 2015. I paid for three ads (fewer than before), but I forgot to sign up for all the free newsletters until after it was too late. (You need a 7-day lead time for the sites I’ve been using. I remembered 6 days before.)
In May 2015, my 5-days-free yielded 7312 downloads.
In August 2015, the same five days gave up 8108 copies.
Looking great, right? My October results came to only 662 copies. Did you see that – 662!!!
I honestly think there is a lot more owed to those free-to-list-in-our-free-book-newsletter emails than I realized. Forgetting to sign up with the 30 or so that I did all the other times was the only real difference in October.
Interesting, huh? Of course, there could be any number of other factors that I didn’t realize. But I think not signing up for the free sites was a big factor.
So when you’re thinking about how to advertise your free book, and wondering how much you can spend on paid ads, keep in mind that all of those free newsletters might be enough to get you a good start!
I wrote about the results from my May 5-days-free promotion here, and I just updated the earnings this week to “actual” rather than a guesstimate, showing I overestimated revenue. I also tallied the results from my August 5-days-free promotion here. (I’m still showing revenue guesstimates until I get the final numbers for September, but I’ll update that post soon). Both of these promotions have been for Little Miss Lovesick, which has been in KDP Select since February 26, 2015.
Now I want to discuss my “borrows” – which I’ll refer to as KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) for periods beginning July 1, 2015. I’ve been studying the “tail” of sales and borrows after my promotions to see how long it lasts. (The length of the period after a sales spike is commonly referred to as the tail.)
I don’t want to leave my book in KDP Select forever, but at what point has the positive impact of the 5-days-free promo in each 90-day period stopped influencing borrows/KENP? It’s not cut-and-dried, particularly because you can’t truly compare “borrows” of full books to KENP, “pages read” of full books. But for me, for this book, it looks like there are 4-6 good weeks of borrows, with the first three weeks the very best.
For example, for the first 2 1/2 months of the first KDP Select 90-day period (February 26 – May 25, 2015), I had 1 borrow. In the two weeks during and after the free period (May 19-31), I had 71 borrows! Then another 88 in the month following (June 1-30).
But the second month after the free period showed a sharp drop – 2381 KENP pages read. Little Miss Lovesick has 402 KENP pages, so that’s the equivalent of about 6 books borrowed and read July 1-31.
[NOTE: Little Miss Lovesick was earning about $1.35 per “borrow” through June 30, 2015. Since Amazon changed borrows to KENP pages read on July 1, the book – at 402 KENP pages – now earns about $2.32 if a reader reads every page.]
During the second 90-day period (May 26 – August 23), I tried to recreate the circumstances as exactly I could. During the two weeks during and after the free period (August 18-31), there were 24,899 KENP pages read! Because I don’t expect that every reader reads every page (copyright page, author bio, excerpt, etc.), I’d guess that’s between 62 and 66 books borrowed and read (compared to 71 borrows in May).
The following month, September 1-30, there were 15,567 KENP pages read. That’s probably about 38-42 books borrowed and read (as compared to 88 in June).
If you’d like to see exact numbers, here are the KENP pages read by week for the last seven weeks. Day 1 of Week 1 is the first day of the 5-days-free promo.
Week 1: 7246 KENP pages read
Week 2: 17,653
Week 3: 7831
Week 4: 3780
Week 5: 1692
Week 6: 1811
Week 7: 1274
It’s too early to guess what October’s numbers might be, but based on one period of history above (not a good way to show statistical integrity), and understanding that the previous way Amazon counted borrows (1 book, regardless of how much of it was read after the 20% mark) is significantly different from the new method (by page, exactly), my guess is that October’s numbers will be bleak.
The reason why I started looking at these numbers this week is because Little Miss Lovesick is in the middle of another 90-day KDP Select period, and I need to decide which five days will be free. Knowing that the sales/borrows tail will be good for at least three weeks, I want to do the free promo at least three to four weeks before the end of the period so I can get all the revenue I can from borrows before the book leaves the program.
Unless I change my mind and leave this book in KDP Select for another term (through February 19, 2016), I’ll set the five free days to start sometime during the week of October 18. That will leave me a four-to-five-week tail to get paid for as many KENP pages read as possible before the book leaves KDP Select on November 22.
ACK!! That doesn’t give me much time to figure out where and how to promote it to best advantage!
And that is why I wrote this post for you. 🙂 If you put a book in KDP Select, you need to think through all the potential good that can come your way and figure out how to harness it. If you leave your 5-day-free promo to the end of the period, and don’t renew the book in KDP Select in the following period, you stand to lose hundreds of dollars or more in KENP lost revenue.
If your book isn’t selling anywhere else, as was the case with this book, it probably doesn’t hurt to keep trying different ways to gain readers using KDP Select. For instance, if you don’t want to make your book free for five days (and they can be any five days, but everyone I know, myself included, has found the best results when the five days are in a row), you can try KDP Select’s Kindle Countdown Deal.
The key is – whatever you decide to do, think it through and make a plan. Good luck!
by Rebecca Forster
When I was asked out on my first dinner date, my mother gave me some sage advice: â€œOrder Chicken Kiev.â€
To this day, I donâ€™t know if my mother was being considerate of my dateâ€™s financial status (Chicken Kiev was the cheapest thing on any menu) or was worried that I would be considered high maintenance and never be asked out again. Either way, I ate so much Chicken Kiev back then I thought I might be Ukranian.
Which brings me to the topic of the day: frugality. I donâ€™t eat Chicken Kiev any longer (Iâ€™m not even sure I could look at it) but I do clean my own house, make most of my own clothes and serve leftovers for dinner. Yet, when it came to books, frugality was never a consideration. I know what it takes to write a novel. It is damn hard work. As an author, I hope that readers realize that they are paying for my effort in the same way I benefit from the expertise of anyone whose service I purchase. So, when I found a site called The Frugal E-Reader I had a few questions about books and price.
Enter Elizabeth Trudgeon Brown, Founder of the Frugal E-Reader: Kindle Finds for Under Nine (dollars), a review site for Indie and traditionally published authors alike whose books are available digitally. I wanted to ask her what role frugality plays in this new age of publishing.
Why did you decide to blog about inexpensive (some would say cheap) books instead of books in general?
While I was eagerly waiting for my Kindle to arrive this summer, I spent a lot of time at the Kindle Store and Discussion Forums searching for books to read. I caught a few discussions about $9.99 being the price cap that eBooks are generally accepted at, or that some readers were frustrated about prices being over $9.99 since the Agency Model took affect. I started to search for books that were under that threshold, and was pleased to find that so many were available! I decided to create a place that readers could come to so that they wouldnâ€™t have to spend a lot of time and effort researching for themselves.
Your reviews are exceptionally detailed â€“ nothing frugal there. Do you find your frugal followers lean toward one genre or another?
Mystery, thriller, or suspense titles are generally popular among the readers of The Frugal eReader. Classics are also widely accepted, so whenever I come across a classic novel that is under $9.00, Iâ€™m sure to include it. However, I believe each genre has its own following and as long as the specific premise is intriguing, it actually doesnâ€™t matter what genre a title falls under to do well.
Are you setting a new decision matrix by leading with price?
When I first started to search for books to read on my Kindle, I was thrilled to find that along with some traditionally published books, there is a whole community of self-published authors that offer their books at lower prices. Without my Kindle and the many hours I spent searching for books, I may have never known of these authors or books. Iâ€™m not necessarily trying to set a new decision matrix; my goal is to provide one place where readers can discover books and authors at great values.
Do you think this â€˜frugalâ€™ approach creates a new mindset among readers?
Will they continue to expect the same quality and length of work for ever lower prices?
I donâ€™t believe that quality should always be directly related to cost. Though something may be â€œfrugal,â€ it shouldnâ€™t mean that it canâ€™t be of great value, and vice-versa. Whether a book is $0.99 or $9.99, readers wonâ€™t enjoy coming across typos, grammatical errors, or formatting issues.
One of the biggest complaints of digital books (especially Indies) is that there is no editorial oversight. Do you think â€˜frugal E readersâ€™ are more forgiving of editorial mistakes because of the lower prices?
Iâ€™m sure readers can be more forgiving of certain editorial mistakes with self-published authors â€“ but to an extent. Though self-published authors may not have the immediate means to hire professional editors, proof readers, or artists, they should still put as much time and effort into proofing and editing their work as they have possible. The big picture is important here; with the expansion of the eBook market, readership and revenue are likely to increase. The possible additional funds should be used for additional editing, cover art, or anything else to improve upon the published work. No matter what the market is, investing revenue to improve upon or expand awareness of a product is essential to increased success.
I have seen discussion boards where readers resent paying for digital books. They believe since they are uploaded so easily they should be the lowest price â€“ free, in the ideal world. What would you say to them?
In most cases, the eBook version is the lowest price. Although the price may still seem high for a digital copy (say $9.99), you could pay up to $24.99 for the same title if you were to purchase the paperback or hardback version. The higher price is understandable because in printed books, there are additional costs. However, there are rare occurrences where the Kindle price is more expensive than the paperbackâ€¦ this could potentially be due to the high demand of that particular eBook, or the fact that the digital version provides instant gratification.
I can understand how people may feel that the digital versions should be free, especially if they have already purchased the same title as a paperback or hardback. We may see this one day, as we do now with our music or certain DVDs and Blu-Rays. However, readers should also keep in mind that what we are essentially paying for is the story; the time and effort the author took to create it, and the intellectual entertainment that the story provides – no matter what format itâ€™s in.
What is your advice to traditionally published and Indie authors regarding price as they enter this market?
I hope that the authors see the value in maintaining reasonable prices for their work as the market for eBooks continues to increase. They shouldnâ€™t fear pricing their books low â€“ especially if they are newcomers to the publishing world. Let me reiterate that price does not always correlate directly with quality. A lower priced book should not mean that itâ€™s â€œcheapâ€ in the sense that it is poorly written, or poorly formatted. When an unknown author enters the market, they should consider pricing their work as a means to develop their brand. Also keep in mind that a reader may be more inclined to purchase the work of a new author at a lower price â€“ less risk. Once the author can establish themselves and the demand for their work increases, then prices can be adjusted accordingly.
Check out The Frugal eReader at: