At the end of this month, I’ll be self-publishing seven (7!) e-books directly onto Amazon (via their Digital Text Platform, an excellent tool for self-publishing authors) and Smashwords. The titles will be available on all the major e-readers: Kindle, Kobo, Apple, PDF, etc. – although Amazon’s Kindle is my focus.
These new titles, along with my existing novella Phoenix and the Darkness of Wolves, mean that I have a decent sample of eight titles with which to build my reputation and sales. I have another few titles in the works, but Mum’s the word on those for now. I’m saving them for later …
At the end of every month, I will post sales figures on this blog/website.
The goals of the Grand Experiment are:
- My primary goal (to determine whether the experiment is a success) is to sell 1,000 e-books in total (across all of these titles) by December 31, 2011
- My secondary goal is to sell 1,000 copies of each title (i.e. 7,000 copies) by December 31, 2011.
- I’m also hoping to demonstrate that word length is far less important when it comes to selling e-books. Novels are the dominant form in bookstores, but I propose that novellas are a better length for e-book readers and that short story collections, when marketed and published the right way, will sell just as well.
As for everything else, here’s a preliminary FAQ:
How much will your e-books cost?
The titles will range from $0.99 to $2.99 (US dollars). From my research, I believe the ‘sweet spot’ to optimise e-book sales is under $5 ($2.99 is my best guess), and by the way Amazon stack their royalties, they do, too.
And here’s the tip: if any of my titles priced below $2.99 sell 1,000 copies, I’ll raise the price by $1, to a maximum of $2.99. So if you’re interested, get in early and save!
Why eight titles and not one or two?
I’m firmly of the belief that one-off titles released on Smashwords and/or Amazon will sink into the sea of lost books, swamped (if I can mix my metaphors) by the millions of other titles – good and not so good – flooding the market. Having more books out there means casting a wider net, therefore, I’m hoping to get reader interest in my books sooner, and when I do, I’ll have other titles available with which to sate their reading hunger. In a world with a shortening attention span, authors with only one or two titles out there will struggle to gain a foothold in the market.
What kind of e-books will you release?
Over the next fortnight, in the leadup to the books’ mass release, I’ll be posting the cover art and synopses on this blog. My first seven e-books (eight if you count Phoenix) are novellas and short story collections (that’s right, plural – collections).
Will you be self-publishing print copies of these e-books?
No. This is purely an e-book experiment. Some of my e-books will already be available in print format (such as Shards, which was published as an illustrated collection by Brimstone Press in 2009), and I’ll point interested readers toward these existing print books. To be honest, I don’t expect to sell all that many e-books, but if I do, I’ll reassess the time and effort involved to create print versions. Until then, it’s e-book formats only.
Self-publishing, huh? Will your e-books reach the same production standards as e-books published by a traditional pubisher?
Yes! All of my e-books will have an ISBN.
As for the quality of the covers – remember, I’m the guy who did the graphic design for Black: Australian Dark Culture Magazine and Eye of Fire. I’ve typeset and created the covers for every one of Brimstone Press’ titles and received a Sydney Galley Club Award nomination for my book design skills.
I’m a generalist who values excellence. As a media savvy, award-winning author with extensive graphic design and typesetting experience, I’m the model citizen for the e-book self-publishing revolution! 🙂
Of course, it’s up to you and other readers as to whether you think the books are up to scratch. Personally, I hope you do!
Why Amazon and Smashwords?
Intriguingly, I’ve seen a lot of authors who have ventured into e-book self-publishing through only one platform or the other. I think a lot of authors used to the traditional publishing model are daunted by the work involved in formatting and marketing their books, and to a fair degree, it is hard work. Amazon can be hard to understand to the uninitiated, so some authors tend toward Smashwords as it seems simpler and offers a variety of formats (whereas Amazon specialises in the Kindle, surprise surprise). That’s a mistake.
Smashwords make e-books available in all the main formats, including Kindle, and many authors believe this is enough. However, from what I understand, Smashwords don’t yet have a distribution agreement with Amazon, so Smashwords Kindle books can only be purchased through Smashwords, which is a very limiting option. By publishing through Amazon, my books will be available through their vast network, and by publishing through Smashwords, I’ll have books distributed to major e-tailers like Barnes & Noble, Borders, and the Apple Store.
How will you promote your e-books?
This is where I need your help! While I’m going to try a modest advertising spend on ads with Facebook and Goodreads and I’ll do what I can on my own social networks, I’m hoping people interested in this experiment will spread the word – or even buy a book or two! Once the books go live, I’ll be posting updates here, on Facebook, and elsewhere. It’s going to be a journey, and I hope you’ll come along with me for the ride.
Wish me luck!
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