Tag Archives: Derelict

In the Land of the Free

Something weird happened this weekend. And I’m not talking about my being attacked by an alien Elvis impersonator in a Gorilla suit. I’ll tell you kids that story some other time.

What happened was this: I was checking the sales numbers for my books in the Kindle store. (I know Bob Mayer says that doing this too often means you’re taking your eyes off the long road, but it’s all so shiny and new right now it’s hard to keep myself from checking at least once a day. And that’s okay because I’m pretty sure I’ll grow out of it, just like I grew out of compulsively checking my blog stats every fifteen minutes.) Anyway, the last time I checked I had sold exactly five of my new scifi/horror short story “Derelict.” But when I checked my numbers on Saturday night that number had shot up to twelve hundred.

I froke out.

I chicken danced right across the ceiling I was so excited. Unfortunately my feet got caught in the fan blades, and I thumped back down to reality. “Wait a moment,” I said to myself. “Did not a wise man once tell me that if something seems to good to be true it probably is? And further was not this wise man my father, who’s noble office I am preparing to celebrate on the morrow? Perhaps this warrants further investigation.”

And what do you know, good old dad was right. Because when I checked my Amazon page I saw that my ebook, which had been listed at the bargain-basement price of ninety-nine cents, had been marked down into the sub-basement of freebies.

At first I was angry. Because hey, this was my story and they were just giving it away? Without my permission?

And then I remembered another wise thing my dad once said: “Always read the fine print.” So I did. And lo and behold, I found out that Amazon has every right to take your story and mark it down to whatever price they feel like.

Gradually my anger faded and was replaced with a heaping dose of pragmatism. I learned two things that night, things that my fellow authors would do well to keep in mind especially if they plan to ever go the indie/guerilla/self/gorilla-publishing route.

1. Amazon is large and in charge.

Seriously people, the Kindle is it right now. I’m sure some of you out there love your Nooks, and for what it’s worth I don’t own either, but from my side of the equation I can tell you that I’m selling way more ebooks through Amazon than anywhere else.

Which means that Amazon can basically afford to do whatever they want to do and you’ve just got to sit there and take it. Sure you can go out and whine and moan about how big they are and how its not fair, but none of that really matters. You’re in the game, and these are the rules. Maybe they aren’t “fair” but that doesn’t give you the excuse to stop playing to win.

2. Free stuff is the best publicity ever.

I want to reiterate something I said at the beginning of the post. Before, my story was in the hands of a total of five people. At this point it’s in the hands of nearly two-thousand.

Now sure, some of those people only downloaded the story because it was free. Maybe they won’t ever even get around to reading it. But now I have two five-star reviews on that story, where before I had none. And the odds are good that if people like my writing, some of them will check out my other ebooks. And having my story move so many copies so fast has done wonders for it’s ranking.

So yeah, maybe I’m just being a Pollyanna here but I see some huge potential upsides to all of this in the long run. And it is a long run. So I’m gonna pace myself, and keep doing my best. Because, honest success doesn’t come overnight.

P.S. You really should go and check out Derelict if you haven’t done so already. You’ve got no excuses now, and I really think you’ll like it. If you do like it, maybe you would be inclined to write a review?

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Of Battling Bloggers and the Zen of “Duh”

I don’t usually like to respond directly to other blogs, but I thought today merited some exception to that rule. See, on Wednesday Kristen Lamb tried once again to whack us in the noggin with the idea that as writers trying to grow an  online audience, blogging about writing is not a good idea.

This is not new. Kristen has been talking about this at least since I started reading after her at the beginning of the year.

Then Austin Wulf, another blogger I like and respect, answered back with a post arguing against Kristen Lamb’s main points. I recommended you read both blogs for yourself if for no other reason than the fact that they represent two very well argued and opposing viewpoints.

But here’s the deal: I’ve been thinking a lot about this blogging thing lately. More importantly I’ve been thinking about audience numbers and how to expand them. Of course I’ve always wanted more readers, but for a long time it was something almost academic, simply a way to fuel my pride about my blogging ability.

But about a month ago something changed. I released an ebook called A Prairie Home Apocalypse or: What the Dog Saw. Many of you who are loyal readers of this blog bought the book, and I thank you. But about two weeks after releasing the book my numbers basically hit a brick wall. I’d sell one every couple of days, but the numbers just weren’t there. I’d tapped out my audience, and now I was swinging in the wind. And I don’t know about you, but the prospect of making money really makes me perk up and pay attention.

So I started thinking about what I could do about it, and what I came up with was this: maybe I shouldn’t be blogging exclusively about writing.

Because I believe it does limit my readership to a certain extent. Looking back over posts of the past, some of the most popular by SEO numbers have absolutely nothing to do with writing. And now that I’m further along in my blogging career SEO is a big part of bringing in traffic.

Now there are clearly writers that can pull off writing about writing and garner an audience by the boatload, but as far as I can tell all of those writers are named Chuck Wendig. I am not named Chuck Wendig, nor do I have even an iota of the man’s skill in crafting pithy punchy posts.

Which is why you may have noticed in the past few weeks, that I haven’t been writing as much about writing. Instead I’ve been dabbling in other topics that interest me to see what kind of reaction I can get from the audience at large. This is not to say that I’ll never blog about writing again, but after all this time, I’m finally starting to think maybe Kristen was right all along. And even though it did take me a while to realize it, I’m not ashamed.

Sometimes you have to understand something for yourself. You hear it over and over, and one day it finally clicks and you’ll say, “You know that thing everyone tried to tell me I should do for all those years. Maybe I should give that a shot.”

And the people who tried to tell you for all those years are smacking their heads with their palms and saying, “Yes, what a brilliant idea. Maybe you should try that.”

And that’s okay. Because sometimes you just have to learn it on your own.

Addendum: don’t worry. The economics post was a bomb, so you won’t have to worry about seeing Money Mondays anytime soon.

Addendum 2: I have a new/old short story out for the Kindle. It’s a terrifying little tale that mixes science fiction and horror into a delightfully spine-tingling concoction that I call Derelict. Maybe you should check it out.