Monday, August 27, 2012

Giving stuff away for fun and profit

Whether authors are publishing their own books or they're with a traditional house, a central concern is how to get more books sold and into the hands of readers. And that's exactly what I'm obsessing about lately. Since the spring when I released STONES OF ABRAXAS and its sequel HEROES OF ABRAXAS under my Kissing Frog Books imprint, I've been trying to figure out how to effectively promote them. And what I've discovered is that promoting a self-pubbed book is even more of an uphill battle than getting a traditionally published book out there.
I've had a few books traditionally published (including the original edition of STONES OF ABRAXAS in 2006), but I've never done the self-pub thing before. So I did some research and asked other authors who've been successful with publishing their own books. The authors all generously gave me advice that worked for them. I implemented their advice, everything from using social media (including this very blog here), to trying to get reviews, to setting the price for the first ebook in my Abraxas series at free so people will get hooked and want to buy the next book. Then I sat back and waited for the royalty checks to roll in. I'm still waiting.
I had especially high hopes for the tactic of setting the price of the STONES OF ABRAXAS ebook at free, since it's worked so well for many other authors. So I priced it as free at Smashwords, then found out I can't make it free at Amazon's Kindle store unless I join the Kindle Select program. On its surface, Kindle Select sounded great because among other things your book is part of a lending library program and you earn royalties every time it's downloaded through the library. But I learned that the problem with Kindle Select is that you have to promise to exclusively publish your ebook through them for at least 90 days. I didn't like the idea of shutting out other booksellers, so I published my books for Kindle, but didn't enroll in Kindle Select.
Did that mean I couldn't set the STONES ebook price at free? Not necessarily, according to fellow YA author, Megg Jensen. She told me that Amazon wants people to let them know if a book is available for less than their price at another website. So I let them know it was free at Smashwords. That was a month or two ago, but it hasn't changed yet at Amazon. Not to worry, says Megg. She said that I might have to make a nuisance of myself until the price eventually gets changed. So Nuisance Land, here I come.
That's where I'm at right now as far as trying to promote my three self-pubbed books. If anyone has any suggestions that might help further, please let me know. Obviously, I can use all the help I can get.

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