Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Turns out that my promotional efforts last week were something of a bust. I’m speaking as objectively as I can, because expectations are always raised when you take the plunge and fork over some money for this kind of thing, yet I’ve learned in the four months since Yesterday Road came out to at least try keep my expectations in check.
Still. Here we go. For you authors considering these outfits:
The BargainBooksy feature ($50) yielded eleven sales.
Choosy Bookworm ($0) yielded no sales. Then again, it cost me nothing to try it.
I’m pretty much convinced that this has a lot to do with my genre — literary fiction. It just seems a simple fact that the indie market and the typical ebook reader are geared toward mystery/thriller, romance, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, and maybe young adult. Readers of literary fiction still haven’t made the move, at least not in significant numbers, toward ebooks, so there aren’t many of them subscribing to newsletters like BargainBooksy and Ereader News Today.
The other big factor is price, and I’ve moaned and groaned about that before here. The overwhelming emphasis of these promotional sites is on free and “bargain” books, and the average reader seems to interpret “bargain” to mean a couple of bucks maximum. Would I have sold a few more books if I’d kept the price of Yesterday Road at $2.99? I doubt it. There’s intense pressure to discount to 99 cents or less, and even then I’m afraid the genre issue would rear up and make me the author of a book I can’t even give away.
I sure don’t need that right now.
Hugh Howey’s report on the ebook market strikes me as even more of a double-edged sword after this experience. What he’s really revealing is that Amazon is moving a lot of independent ebooks in the popular genres and that a large percentage of these are indies. But that also plays into the “quality gap” problem. Readers of literary fiction (let’s call them “hoity toities” for simplicity’s sake) look at the data and say, “I told you! Ebooks are all genre crap written by amateurs.”
And the cycle will probably spin like this for quite a while until something new happens. Amazon will become a gargantuan poop-factory in the eyes of the hoity toities, while a certain clique of indies will do very well, attracting more and more genre authors to self-publishing and repelling (or discouraging) more and more writers of literary fiction. Even though traditional publishers pump out their fair share of genre books, they’ll maintain the mantle of quality. Only when, somehow, a few literary authors manage to gain some traction in the indie market and show the hoity toities that it’s safe to wade into these waters can the cycle be broken, and I don’t see it happening next week.
Meanwhile, there’s not much to be done other than play the only game in town. And that means selling books the hard way, one by one, using whatever tools are at hand.