Please welcome Janet Benrey to the blog! Janet has the distinction of a) talking about one of our favorite topics here–To E Or Not To E much?–while b) simultaneously being the 75th Made It Momenter. I was very excited to read her thoughts on this brave new world, and I think you will be, too.
Once upon a time I was a writer who was published traditionally by a royalty-paying house. Sales were okay. Do I hear a yawn? Then into my once-upon-a-time world came a new device called the electronic reader and the yawn became a grimace. Earnings declined as readers began to bypass paper for e-books with lower-paying royalties.
But all that changed one day when Amazon created the Kindle and became a publisher. Faster than a flying bullet, it was possible for a writer to publish an e-book without an agent and without a traditional publisher. The ground had shifted.
All of a sudden more than a few authors were making serious money e-publishing. Others began to e-publish their books, too, and everyone began to talk about it. Really.
Let me back up – I write cozy mysteries with my husband Ron. We have written three different cozy-mystery series. Because of this shift in the publishing paradigm, we have launched as e-books through a small e-book publisher, our Tunbridge Wells tea museum mysteries, Dead as a Scone and The Final Crumpet.
Here’s what we’ve learned so far.
We are convinced that one e-book is harder to sell than many.We say this because we have one romantic novella – Building Love –floating out there by its lonesome, selling modestly. However, our tea-museum mysteries are doing better than we ever dreamed of, and certainly better than they did in bookstores. What is making this so?
We believe that once readers find you, and if they like your first book, they will buy all of your books in your genre and buzz will start as a consequence. Notice I said, in your genre.
Even if you are traditionally published you won’t sell in substantial numbers without buzz. Your publisher can’t create buzz. Only readers can.The importance of readers posting reviews on your Amazon/BN book pages cannot be underestimated.
Which brings us to marketing. Consider this old advertising adage: 50 percent of advertising works. No one knows which 50 percent. The same seems to be true of marketing. Do something. Anything. And pray for buzz. Once it starts, you’ll make serious money. If it never starts, you probably won’t, and there may be nothing you can do about that except write another book and hope buzz starts.
The second reason our e-books are selling is pricing. Readers love low prices. Much like in the good old days, books have once again become an impulsive purchase. Pricing should encourage impulsivity.
The third reason, my two cents, is the book’s cover. If you write cozies, then the cover should scream cozy. Likewise for thrillers.Covers are critical. Your e-book must stand out on the crowded e-book shelf.
Finally, titles count. A title should say something about the book – reflect its theme if possible. If the title is flat and makes no sense, this may hurt sales. We have no stats to back this up, but we have discussed re-titling our out-of-print mystery series set in Maryland. The earlier titles just didn’t work. It’s an experiment. I’m guessing we’ll know right after the books go up on Amazon.
So how do you get your book to fly off the shelf?
- Writing the best book possible and hoping readers recommend your book
- Wrapping your e-book in a stunningly suitable cover
- Pricing your e-bookto encourage impulsive purchasing
- Marketing like crazy
- Giving your book a title that works for your genre
- Telling your fans there’s a new book on the way.
Janet Benrey has worked in many different aspects of book development. She has served as as the editorial director of a small press, a book publicist, a novelist, and a literary agent. She has co-written nine romantic suspense novels with her husband Ron, plus a romance novella that she wrote independently.