Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Silent Partner in Crime - Store

BAYOU WULF (Blood Screams) When I was a younger man during those BK days (Before Kindle) I could seldom find a bookstore, be it a major giant brick and mortar place like B&N or a cozy independent bookstore that I truly felt a partnership with; I was never truly ever made to feel like anything other than a BOTHER in 99 percent of the bookstores I did signings in or dropped in on for a driveby signing.  Now during these days of AK (After Kindle), I am in a true, strong partnership with a bookstore--the Kindle store which has expanded now beyond the UK and into Germany.

The great thing about this partnership is that Amazon is a silent partner and yet they provide such excellent services. Reporting of sales top-notch, book returns no sweat--hardly know they exists, no one boxing up your book while you are still in the store signing!  Distribution is worldwide. I can't enumerate all the wonderful pluses working with the Kindle Store. So I won't . Instead, I will draw your attention to the Kindle Community Forums, one of which I began called: What Mioves Kindle books off the shelf? (misspell and all - think iMoves).  Here is a recent post I placed on the forum which you will likely find of interest if you are at all interested in ebooks sales or as an eReader, eReviewer, eFan, eAuthor, or ePublisher.  The thread here has grown to 18,333 views, 550 posts, 38 pages.

Posted: Apr 20, 2011 3:22 PM:

. . . I can't tell you how many new readers, people who have never read any of my books before have discovered me--my sense of humor, my political rants, my self on facebook and twitter and have become readers of R.W. Walker's books due to getting t'know me through my tweets and remarks on facebook. In Bayou Wulf, for example, I have placed maybe ten or eleven facebook friends' names in the book after posting that I needed some extras on the "set" and to expect to be killed in a gruesome manner. I got all kinds of takers and all of them have family and friends, and all are anxious to see themselves in the book, and they will share their demise with friends and family. Hopefully, this translates into purchasing of more books, gifting to others, etc.

I belong to like ten chat groups, and many of the people on these groups, due to what I had to say, decided to check out my books. In other words, it is not entirely a "crap shoot" but more a good faith effort to convince eReaders that one's work--one's book--is worth anyone's time and money.

As to tagging book titles - what the hey -- it certainly can affiliate you with another author. First time I noticed this all of a sudden William Miekle and I were being treated like blood brothers. Checked out his work and sure enough...and Miekle is on fire, so I am associated with him, great. Associated with JA Konrath, what can it hurt? I've known Joe for years; he was best man at my wedding. But when his book pops up on my book page, and mine on his, I have to figure that does have an affect--my readers find him, his readers find me. We have also exchanged opening chapters of our books at the end of one another's kindle titles. (Now Kindle is posting at end of a book other titles by the same author!  Smart marketing!)

I pretty much concentrate on my own book pages - how can I improve this, tweak that, click here, there, where?  But since using the LIKE button on the book's page, I have highlighted more books of others on my facebook and twitter pages as an effortless thing to do. This means my 5000 friends on facebook and however many I have on Twitter sees the cover art of someone I hit LIKE on. This can't hurt.

I think everything has a cummulative effect and even if I am wrong, please, guys, I need that illusion to keep on keeping on. I know that growing sales truly takes more time and patience more than anything else, that sales grow with word of mouth - reviews, interviews, blogs, articles.

Just today I made a crack about Bayou Wulf not being just about werewulves but "gator tail" is served up in the book as well. The comment caused at least one FB friend to throw his hands up and purchase the novel. I still say a great description, or even a one-liner can zap a potential reader in just the right way as to move him or her to purchase.

I don't believe that the only thing I can do is get into listmania business and/or do any one thing. I can understand the frustration of going from thread to thread, site to site and getting nowhere. I feel you have to pick your battles and use your wits and imagination (often the wild-hair idea is the best!). For example, point out the fact your book is cheaper than a MacDonald's burger, and if it is 99c now, this means it is less than any item in the Dollar General Store. On Facebook get folks putting in items they can buy if they do NOT buy your book - a toothbrush, a liter of pop, etc. Get people to laugh and you win them over. At book conferences and conventions, I always, always get em laughing while on a panel or giving a talk on creating monsters and serial killers and villians you can't take home to mother.

Yes you want to lower your prices if need be, experiment with it, and you want to work toward ranking in the top 100 in any of the wildly scattered categories Amazon "recognizes" -- I showed up like #3 in Religious historical fiction or some such category for Children of Salem once, and I showed up also as beating out just about every author whose last name began with a proud I was but it's a bogus category and who can't beat Stuart Woods, eh?

I just do not buy it that all my two years now of working ALL they methods of getting attention I have done amount to a "crap shoot" -- and but sure, I can understand why someone would say and believe this. It is the hardest thing in the world to make money from writing fiction or poetry (the old saying, "There is no money in poety, but there is no poetry in money" holds true for short stories and novels as well unless you strike the literary lottery or the commercial lottery which is far more rare than people realize -- even in Legacy or traditional publishing as no one in the paper world of books knows what works either except when the CEO of a publishing firm makes a book his/her top priority which means an author is going to be crowned with money and hype.

I kinda sorta pride myself on having come as far as I have spending not a dime; remember all of this is FREE advertising, free publicity, this online world. When I finally discovered FACEBOOK, I really found a home for my personality and desire to have every man, woman, and child read my books! long-winded two cents on the "crap shoot" thing. Not angry or upset or nothing of the sort; I just think it sends the wrong message. Even dropping price is a "gamble" or an "experiment" just as using listmania is a gamble so it is all a casino royale but they let you in for free; you get to select the slots.

Rob Walker - bk. trailer, free chapters, advice!
Bayou Wulf - Cajun-Creole baking, cooking, golf-playing, gator-tail chasing werewulves - whoo-Rah!


Morgan Mandel said...

I'm constantly amazed at your ingeniousness, Rob! Your mind is becoming more wily each day in ways to sell books, and your efforts are paying off.

I'm still playing catch-up, since I have nowhere near as many books to offer, and am asking for rights back on my first two books to offer them at more reasonable prices.

Thanks for all the free advice.

Morgan Mandel

June said...

Rob, this is great! The way your mind works if fascinating. I, for one, have taken your advice and seen a jump in sales. Like Morgan I still have to catch up, but I'm trying! Thanks for sharing all your wonderful advice.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for another good blog - Your good suggestions and shared experience are my encouragement bible :-)
BTW, I don't know what at tweet is or how to do it. Some other writers have asked for them on Twitter but I have no idea how to do them but would like to help.
Good luck and sales to all of us,
Jackie Griffey

Deb Larson said...

Great advice as usual, Rob. You remind me of the saying, "do not follow where the path may lead, go instead, where there is no path and leave a trail."
DL Larson

Donna Fletcher Crow said...

Great article, great writing, Rob. You really "show, don't tell" the letting your own personality speak. Thank you so mcuh for sharing. Your energy encourages me to carry on.

Rob Walker said...

I gather a great deal of my enthusiasm from those I share with; I hate seeing anyone having to go through what I have gone through throughout my admittedly "checkered" career.
When I hear of someone or see someone going down the wrong path in this so-called industry, this roulette wheel, I just want to shout stop - go back! Go another way. For the first time, truly, authors have another path.

Thanks to everyone who has dropped by. I'll check back later for any other comments.


Kevin Lynn Helmick said...

It's come along way's from the days spent sifting through publishers in a book and sending out query's into the abyss.
As far as wriitng, I do have to say I miss the day's when it was just me and my story, my characters and settings without the distractions of blogs, communities,facebook, and the nessesary self promotion. I just relesed a new novel in jan, "Sebastian Cross" and started a new one shortly after. Maybe I started it to soon. I love how it's going, the characters, the feel, but I'ts been the hardest 40.000 (so far) words I've ever written. I feel like like I'm cheating on it when ever I'm doing something that consist of promoting the last book, when I should be writing, concentrating, focusing. At some point I need to shut everything down and stay with my writing schedual. I've never been one of those who can multi-task at prose, to work on several books at once. I like to be in the current project completely.
I've done about all I can do for Sebastian Cross at this time anyway. Maybe just sit back and let it ferment now. It's a lot of work writing a book, and a lot of time promoting it. just can't seem to do both at the same time.
Amazon and social sites has made it possible for you to be a writer with out getting past a gatekeeper. careers can be made very fast, maybe to fast, but it's a great time to be a writer because of it. Where you can go straight to the potentual reader and say, "here I am, here's what I got."
Who knows-amazon's cooking up cool new stuff everyweek. The're the only ones that seem to have a crystal ball and it's only a matter of time before their services come full circle with editing, marketing, promotion in a very cheap if not free package. They have their finger on the pulse of todays buisness model for today's writer. less + less = more and more.

jenny milchman said...

Amazon does seem like a great business partner in many ways, and you know how I celebrate your success.

Personally I relish the in person experience at a bookstore, too, and just hope the two can live together for a long, long time.

But the trails you are blazing in this world are inspiring indeed. Rants and all ;)

Say hi to Joe, I blogged about him (and you) (and Karen McQuestion) recently.

Rob Walker said...

Thanks Jenny! Appreciate it, truly. You keep at it, hear? KEVIN, yeah, I understand what you mean and I feel your pain. In a perfect world, a writer could just WRITE, right? But in the real world where even if you do land a contract you RARELY see the author under contract happy with his or her publisher due to their doing nothing or if they do somethhing it is the wrong something like demanding a title change! So the alternative used to be NO Alternative, No choice save not signing the contract....but now a writer who had worked at his craft and is smart enough to get decent editing does have a choice - ebook indie publishing, but it comes with a price - you get the freedomn but it cost in Responsibilities and now you wear all the hats as you do not have an Art Director unless you hire a guy like my son to do your cover art - a graphics gurur, and editors - either you get early readers for free or you get out the checkbook and purchase the services of a good editor. I charge 2 bucks a page, way under what most NYC editors charge on a project.

Kevin Lynn Helmick said...

I've had offers, small press offers, but after looking at their catalog, their artwork, (which is something I enjoy)their contracts, and wow, they wanted it all and for nothing really. I could only get their books on their websites, and amazon, and so forth. Maybe they'd show uo at a few book fairs but ouside of that their marketing and sales departments, or lack of, wasn't very impressive. So it was my descision to say, "I can do that, what do I need you for?"
A few people thought I should have taken one of them on, "well at least you'd be published," they said, "traditionaly."
I thought, who gives a shit, if they own everything, and my books are just sitting and they want to charge me for unsold copies, what is that label "traditinal published" worth to me?
Nothing. Never cared much for labels anyway.