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message 1: by Owen (last edited May 06, 2015 04:10PM) (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments I like numbers and the first place I worked out of college had the motto: "All the data, all the time", which I tend to embrace. So I thought it might be interesting to throw out some numbers here, regarding sales and genres. Of course, all the usual caveats apply, such as: this is only a single snapshot; it is from Amazon; it is a very limited data set, and it only for genre fiction. So drawing sweeping conclusions is not warranted.

When it comes to deciding where and how to sell a book, and setting expectations for its sales potential, all sort of things come into play. Some of these are intangible, others are more or less imponderable, but a few are subject to being roughly quantified. Among these are these two:
How successful are indie authors in a given genre?
How do eBooks sell compared to print a in given genre?

To state the obvious, the first is useful for setting expectations and forming a marketing strategy; the second suggests what formats to sell, and also affects setting one's expectations, since indie authors do better at the lower end of the price spectrum, which means eBooks.

Combined, these factors can be useful in sorting all the advice one encounters out there. In evaluating what you read, it helps to know that if an author is discussing their experience in selling crime fiction, how that relates (or doesn't) to (say) urban fantasy, especially if they are offering marketing tips.

Thus, the idea behind this post is mainly to give a simple example that illustrates these factors. I picked the 2 genres I'm most familiar with, and 3 more that seem to be popular. (Adapt as appropriate and keep in mind that books show in multiple genres.)

With that long-winded preamble, the snapshot is below. To keep things simple, I formed it by looking at the Top 20 in the KDP Top 100 list for each genre. (There are reasons you wouldn't want to do that if you're serious, but I'll neglect those for now.)

The first genre I picked with military sci-fi which pretty well overlaps with space opera. The Top 20 in Best Sellers in Military Science Fiction looks like this:
12 books be indie authors; 2 by Amazon (AMZ) imprints (began as indies); 5 Traditional (Trad) authors.
Overall KDP bestseller ranks: #87 to #841.
Mapping to bestseller ranks in all books:
#87 KDP => #2,240,307 in Books; #599 => #12,220 in Books; #841 => #14,036 in Books; #896 => #508,753 in Books (this last is a book by a NYT Bestselling author)

Next, I looked at Epic Fantasy. The Top 20 in Best Sellers in Epic Fantasy looks like this:
Only 2 books by indie authors, the rest by Trad authors (mostly GRRM - no surprise).
Overall KDP bestseller ranks: #78 to #882
Mapping to bestseller ranks in all books: #213 KDP => #308 in Books (GRRM); #741 => #1,267 in Books (not GRRM).

Then, Best Sellers in Paranormal & Urban Fantasy:
This genre was interesting because the Top 20 appeared to about equally divided between Indie authors, AMZ Imprint authors and Trad authors.
Overall KDP bestseller ranks: #30 to #444.
Mapping to bestseller ranks in all books: #30 => #44,745 in Books (an AMZ Imprint); #444 => #76,211 in Books

Finally, I looked Horror and Thrillers.

Best Sellers in Horror Literature & Fiction:
Here again, there was a mix Indie, AMZ Imprint, and Trad authors, much like Urban/Paranormal.
Overall KDP bestseller ranks: #29 to #947
Mapping to bestseller ranks in all books: #29 => #47,908 in Books; #947 => #408,222 in Books
Interesting note on this Genre. A book by Steven King that is available for pre-order was (today) at #18 in the Top 20. This mapped to #948 in the overall KDP store and to #5,264 in Books. So Steven King (today) barely made it into the KDP Horror Top 20 and the overall KDP Top 1000. And he's just outside the Top 5000 in books. Stephen King! Keep that in mind in gauging your sales success.

Thrillers
If there were any indie authors in the Top 20, they are doing very well for themselves! The Top 20 ranked from #2 overall in KDP to #129. The #2 KDP book was #5 in Books, overall. The book rank #20 in the Top 20 ranked #129 in KDP and #175 in Books.

So what one might conclude from all this (which, I will mention pretty well tracks other snapshots I've taken).

First, that space opera is is a fertile field for indie authors. They dominate the KDP rankings -- 75% of the Top 20 books are by indies -- but they don't sell much print.

Horror and Urban fantasy -- and related Romance (there's a heavy overlap there) -- are also pretty good for indie authors. Print does sell in these genres, at least at the top end.

In Epic Fantasy, print is still popular and you are going head-to-head with GRRM. So really, one needs to look much father down the list (which I did, and it's still not good for indies). Print is popular.

In Thrillers -- which appear to have the most top-flight bestsellers on Amazon -- things look tough if you're indie. Print seems to dominate here, and it is swamped by mega-authors. But then, it's a very popular genre, so it you can get any traction at all, maybe you can do well. Again, you have to look far down the list (which I didn't).

So what sort of actionable conclusions might one draw, assuming these data are valid? Well -- for talking purposes only -- something like:

In Thrillers and Epic Fantasy, cast a wide net and try to get visibility by offering work for free or $0.99. In Epic Fantasy, especially, I noted a lot of work at the low end that I'd call "hobbyist" level -- people who weren't doing professional-quality covers and didn't pay that much attention to editing, or to the blurb. My impression is that this depressed prices to a degree and set rather low expectations for readers, who may tend to equate indie authors with low-grade work here, more than other genres. To succeed (if this correct) one would have to distinctly stand out.

In space opera, it appears that a good strategy would be to go exclusively with KDP to gain the benefits of their marketing tools and KU, and set a price at $2.99 minimum. Print editions look optional -- they won't sell much but they might make you look more "serious". Don't bet heavily on a loss-leader strategy and shorter works seem iffy.

In Horror, Urban, and Romance, you're on your own. Print and eBook seem both viable, and casting a wide net is probably a good idea. There is no strong indication that being exclusive to Amazon is a major benefit here. Digging a little deeper here, freebies seem to work well, including shorter works. Note that this is (in this sample) a popular genre: all 20 books in the Top 500.

Again (& again), don't take this as holy writ. But if you're willing to do this sort of research, it can help your marketing and ease your expectations. But these are not the only factors, not even (I suspect) the most important ones. But they are easier to get at than some of the others.

So, there is a huge text wall for what it is worth ... go forth and conquer. : )

PS: In addition to the foregoing, look at the number of reviews and the ratings (not rankings) in these Top 20 books -- you'll see they vary quite a bit for indie authors. (Some books have less then 10; one had no reviews yet. Some had plenty of negative reviews.) This should take a little steam out the heavy emphasis on getting reviews.


message 2: by Charles (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments Holy wall of text! :D

It does make me a little less anxious about not having a print version out there for now. Thanks for the leg work.


message 3: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Charles wrote: "Holy wall of text! :D."

Yes, I am now hiding out from the text-wall cops, clutching my keyboard.


message 4: by Charles (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments No it's good, everyone should read that.


message 5: by Micah (last edited May 06, 2015 03:16PM) (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments Great post Owen. (Size doesn't matter.)

I like this kind of analysis, too. I really want at some point to go back and do print versions of at least my first novel and maybe my novella. I don't think it would help sales really, and that's what's stopping me. With the artists I used for the covers, the price extra price for paperbacks has a very low WAF(*)

And I have a real issue with appropriately targeting my books in a genre. Some of them have elements of New Space Opera...except there's no real empire, big sweeping conflict. The universe they take place in is big and diverse, but it's not a universe where there is mass conflict. There is local conflict, but not star systems vs star systems...no aliens...

That being said, I think I may need to readjust my SEO for my first novel. I don't think having it associated with thrillers is doing me any favors!


* WAF = Wife Acceptance Factor


message 6: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Micah wrote: "Great post Owen. (Size doesn't matter.)

I like this kind of analysis, too. I really want at some point to go back and do print versions of at least my first novel and maybe my novella. I don't thi..."


Thanks!

Back when I was reading more of it (early Bujold), space opera did not depend on huge conflicts (and/or aliens). A lot of her stuff depended on a big universe with lots of players pursuing local conflicts and interests. There really wasn't an overarching conflict in her stories. (Earlier, a good deal of Poul Anderson's work was in the same vein.)

Maybe that sort of thing doesn't sell anymore, but I hope it does, because we're about the launch into some.


message 7: by Ken (last edited May 06, 2015 04:14PM) (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) Good insight on what's selling and what isn't. Makes me glad I chose Sci-Fi and Space Opera lo those many years ago.


message 8: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
So you're saying I should write as many different genres as possible to spread as far and wide a net as possible. Got it!
Awesome post though Owen, I love the in-depth look. Might be adding this to the author resource post when I consolidate it again.


message 9: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments I'm a sociology nerd so I'm often glancing at the genre/subgenres books are broken down into and think authors should cast as wide a net as their work HONESTLY allows for. Why not pitch to different readers if your work is multifaceted?

I always wondered what being in the top 100 in any catagory approximately meant for sales. I know it's likely ranges but I'd love to get that much insight so as to adjust my expectations :)


message 10: by Owen (last edited May 06, 2015 06:54PM) (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Courtney wrote: "I always wondered what being in the top 100 in any catagory approximately meant for sales. I know it's likely ranges but I'd love to get that much insight so as to adjust my expectations :) ..."

If you mean driving sales, my observation has been that it depends on the category and where in the Top 100 the book is. Getting into the Top 100 is a trailing indicator (it lags a books sales), so often books have a sales spike that is already waning by the time they register in the Top 100. (A few sales in day will boost a book into the Top 100 in some obscure categories, and then the book usually falls out just as fast.)

As far as driving sales, my suspicion is that it's really the Top 20 that matters: that's like appearing on page one of a Google search. If a book is in the Top 20 of a frequently searched/visited category, that probably does drive traffic. Our books have been in one or more Top 100 lists quite a number of times, but never yet in the Top 20 of a major category. We haven't seen an evident substantial benefit from being in the a Top 100 list. Whether seeing that a book is in a Top 100 list is an inducement to buy the book is hard to say. It might be.

If you mean what does it indicate for sales per day, there is a rough breakdown of kindle sales based on the overall KDP number. In fact, there is purportedly a site that will kick out sales figures based on Amazon bestseller ranking. The was hearsay, however -- I never tried to find it.


message 11: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments Interesting stuff.


message 12: by Maurice (last edited May 06, 2015 08:15PM) (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments Kindle Spy for use on Chrome browsers will give you a specific breakdown of monthly revenues, by book, for top 40 books in all Amazon categories, and also sales data from individual Author pages.

It was $37 when I got it about six weeks ago. Version 4 comes out tomorrow not sure what features, if any, have been added. Pretty neat tool to use when deciding on categories to choose for your own book and analyzing the competition.

You guys may already be aware of this. You can Google "Kindle Spy" for more info if not.


message 13: by Owen (last edited May 06, 2015 11:30PM) (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Maurice wrote: "Kindle Spy for use on Chrome browsers will give you a specific breakdown of monthly revenues, by book, for top 40 books in all Amazon categories, and also sales data from individual Author pages.
..."


I was not aware. That's interesting. I wonder if Amazon objects to that. (Not sure why they would, but companies often do.) The thing I heard of was alluded to in some blog I can't recall.

A couple of years ago, some guy was selling a kindle book describing code you could insert into your product page to read out a variety of interesting stats. I was shocked Amazon "allowed" executable code to be placed in a description. (I think that was how he did it. He did give some examples.) I have to believe that was -- or was flirting with -- a TOS violation, so I never ever looked at his book, just saw an ad for it. But it would make our lives much easier if Amazon made those stats available.

I would find it a bit interesting if Kindle Spy only works on Chrome.


message 14: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Rob wrote: "I really wonder if there would be a good way to figure stuff like this out for the total misfits who (like many of us indies) refuse to stick to the tradpub-era recipe-book confines of the standing..."

I don't how familiar you are with how Amazon does this, but you figure it in the same way. On Amazon, you book doesn't go in a niche, it covers a spread. You pick two broad categories and then you add your keywords. You keywords are phrases. Say you have this: "Lovecraftian Horror romance that combines string theory with codes left by ancient astronauts in the Mayan calendar to discover ley lines, with digressions into the relevance of the Poetics to baking cookies."

First, you decide what you think likely best draw interested readers at the top level: probably Horror and Romance. Then you use your keywords to refine what you want to draw you target readers. Keep in mind that "string theory Mayan codes ancient astronauts" can be one "keyword". You get 7 total. So basically, you describe your book so that people can find it. Amazon will assign it to various subcategories on that basis. (You might end up in a Top 100 list for 3 or more categories.) You can change your keywords as you like, as long as you're accurately reflecting your book.

The key thing is to search on the keywords/phrases you think best describe your book and see what you get. That gives you an idea of what to expect. Emphasize the terms that seem to be pulling the most promising results. By prepared to do some trial and error.


message 15: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) A word of caution if you are using these 'tools' to streamline the keywords and categories for your book. The key here is to optomize your visibility in the *right* categories, not the *popular* ones. While you may get more eyes in the popular categories, you run the risk of upsetting customers.
Example: a long time ago, Amazon allowed more than two broad categories. I can't be sure, but I think it was five. The idea was that you would be able to pick more subcategories in your genre, but authors took advantage and put their books into everything. One in particular was a science fiction author whose book I found under romance. Now, I am a scifi fan and rather enjoy epic system building, bloody conflict, and the rise of a character from oppressed to leader, however...
...There was no romance. Not even a character who was being set up to be a romantic interest in future books. But at the time that this was published, Romance was one of the best selling categories. At the time I am writing this, the book is still listed under the scifi subcategory in the Romamce genre.
I will not buy any more books from this author. Not because I found the writing sub par, it wasn't. In fact, it was a story I would have gotten into otherwise. Rather, because I found their methods cheap and underhanded. And I wasn't the only one. Nearly all of the low reviews said the book was miscategorized and not what they were looking for.

Don't be that author. If you feel that it's worth your time and money to look into programs that make claims to help you sell your books, do so with this in mind. That author was able to game the system because they were operating in a time when there were less than one million ebooks on Amazon and for every ticked off romance fan, there was a scifi fan who would be intrigued.
There are now at least three times as many books and not as many potential readers who will look at anything more than the star rating and the keywords of a review. Do you want your keywords to be deceptive?


message 16: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments I'm going to endorse the comments by V.M. and Christina above, based on my perspective from working on the internet since 1999. (Thanks for those link!) As a market grows, two things happen: first, providers start to have visibility issues and seek ways to overcome them. This leads to schemes (often of a fee) that try to game the system. Second, it leads to customers becoming more sensitive to people trying game the system.

In a "saturated" market, we struggle for visibility and readers struggle to find what they want. One of the more powerful filters I believe readers use is: "This person seems like a jerk." That could be because they think the author is playing games with categories, shilling for reviews, mouthing off to people who don't like their work, appearing to attack/criticize other authors, etc.

Readers have a ton of choice these days -- Christina says, don't give them as a reason to dismiss your work out of hand.


message 17: by Charles (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments Nothing replaces hard work and determination.


message 18: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments Owen wrote: "One of the more powerful filters I believe readers use is: "This person seems like a jerk..."

I always think that book buyers aren't so much trying to figure out if your book is what they want to read, as they are looking for any reason at all to disqualify your book.

#1 - Book cover. Don't like it, doesn't grab their attention? DISQUALIFIED!
#2 - Title. Lame? DISQUALIFIED!
#3 - Blurb. Confused or unappealing? DISQUALIFIED!

Every step down the list. Reviews look fake, or book doesn't seem to fit the genre you thought it was in, or whatever.

You have to pass every test or they move on.

Brutal world out there!


message 19: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments Micah wrote: "Owen wrote: "One of the more powerful filters I believe readers use is: "This person seems like a jerk..."

I always think that book buyers aren't so much trying to figure out if your book is what ..."


Some truth to that. Readers never pass on a book for being catching and clever.

Speaking from a reader's standpoint (which is all I am atm), I do run through that checklist regardless of who publishes it. You can't really fault readers for developing even an unconscious system for narrowing down their options considering everything out there.

For me, I tend to:

1 - Cover and title - if either catches my attention I'm likely to click on it, though I might make an exception if it has a hefty amount of reviews/ratings despite an awkward presentation.

2- Blurb - if the basic premise as well as language of it doesn't catch my attention I will pass no matter who wrote it or whether it has a million ratings. At that point it would take a personal recommendations from a friend.

All that said, I'm not an eclectic reader. I just put that out that as insight into how some minds work when purchasing a book and why professional presentation across the board never hurts an author's chances for me considering their novel.


message 20: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (last edited May 09, 2015 04:06PM) (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4271 comments Mod
Micah wrote: "You have to pass every test or they move on."

It's probably not true of all readers, but it is of many. I've seen several in other parts of Goodreads give their list of criteria in which they decide if they want to buy a book or not. So often quality of the writing is not even on the list! They go through the cover, the title, the blurb, the reviews, etc. and if these are not passing the test, they move on.

To me it's about like buying breakfast cereal because you like the name on the box and the games on the back. Who cares about the taste or how nutritious it may be, it's got pretty colors on the box!


message 21: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Dwayne wrote: "Micah wrote: "You have to pass every test or they move on."

It's probably not true of all readers, but it is of many. I've seen several in other parts of Goodreads give their list of criteria in w..."


And before everyone begins to panic, keep in mind that not all readers use the same criteria.

I've said it before, my worst covers are my best movers. I will also note that the book I sell the most often has a crappy cover that isn't even proportioned like the others, has a grand total of five reviews in two years, and has no paperback version to give it credibility.

What it does have going for it is the fact that it is the second book in a complete series and I often offer the first one free.


message 22: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments Dwayne wrote: "Micah wrote: "You have to pass every test or they move on."

It's probably not true of all readers, but it is of many. I've seen several in other parts of Goodreads give their list of criteria in w..."


Aside from a personal recommendation, I'm not sure how readers would be able to tell whether a book is good or not without considering reviews and a blurb. It's the same stakes and odds for any published novel unless an author has somehow proven themselves enough to a reader that they'll pretty much read anything they write.

It's like anything when there's a lot of competition in a market - make a good impression and grab somebody's attention.

As an example, I know plenty of readers who gush over covers. So much they'll make shelved and lists devoted to books with the phenomenal cover art. It makes readers excited and pass word along to other friends who share their appreciation for gorgeous/mysterious cover art.

No, doesn't say anything about the author's talent but it makes a book standout enough to read a blurb. Such is advertizing...

Sorry, if I prattled on - I work in market research so I spend the better part of my week thinking about consumerism and how companies woe people off the fence :D


message 23: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4271 comments Mod
Christina wrote: "...keep in mind that not all readers use the same criteria."

Certainly not. I read a few pages. That's the only thing that will really make or break it for me.

Christina wrote: "I've said it before, my worst covers are my best movers."

Cliché is my second best seller and that cover really needs to go. I've been working on a new one. Summerwind is my best seller. The cover is okay, but nothing special.


message 24: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Micah wrote: "I always think that book buyers aren't so much trying to figure out if your book is what ..."

I agree with that -- the decision process tends to be heavily focused on the negative. I believe the same thing happens with reviews: people comb the 2 & 3-star reviews looking for disqualifying factors (which are cogent a good deal of the time) but I don't get the impression they also read the 4 & 5 reviews looking for a countervailing argument. Once they find a negative comment that resonates with them, they're done.

This does not explain the buying behavior of popular books, but here I suspect its a different dynamic. Popularity (I suspect) confers "legitimacy" in and of itself. Word-of-mouth does too. In these case, people tend to ignore reviews.

For new authors, I tend to think reviews are a net negative. Good reviews are a weak factor for selling books, but a single 3-star review can turn a lot of people off. It is dangerous to generalize, but the few books I've seen from new authors that took off (including ours) did so before they got a significant number of reviews. (We had 2 reviews when our first book peaked.)

By the time the reviews start rolling in, these books already have sizable readership, are appearing on numerous "also bought" lists, getting word-of-mouth support, and appear "popular" -- all factors that tend to offset opinions about covers, blurbs, reviews, etc (in that people are more to willing cut some slack in these areas).

Yes, it is brutal out there for new authors. And because of that, my advice to new authors would tend to be: do everything possible to get feedback to improve their work and everything possible to not get any reviews at all until their book starts to sell in significant numbers.


message 25: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Courtney wrote: "Aside from a personal recommendation, I'm not sure how readers would be able to tell whether a book is good or not without considering reviews and a blurb. "

This seems to be true, and it's what I consider the author's curse (as I've mentioned elsewhere). Very few people consider buying a musician's work without listening to a sample of their work, and very few people buy an artwork sight-unseen.

But a lot of people decide to buy books without bothering to read a sample of the work. How people fell into this habit, I don't really understand. As Courtney says, such is advertising.


message 26: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Christina wrote: "And before everyone begins to panic, keep in mind that not all readers use the same criteria. ..."

Quite true, but the question is (if you want to sell): what is the criteria used by the bulk of readers who are most likely to interested in your book? Covers (for example) are more important in some genres than others; cover styles matter and vary between genres (I've heard industry people say to avoid photos in certain genres).

The bottom line is that readers, in general, do not matter. Only your (potential) readers matter.

Christina wrote: "I will also note that the book I sell the most often has a crappy cover that isn't even proportioned like the others, has a grand total of five reviews in two years, and has no paperback version to give it credibility."

Exactly. Your bestseller probably benefits from two important factors: a small number of reviews (that give people nothing negative to get a grip on), and a series with a readership bolstered by the first book (including giveaways). So people come to this book primed to view in a positive light, and the cover, the blurb etc, carry much less weight.


message 27: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments Presentation is a tedious formality but still a key part of making a first impression. After that, readers would buy a blank cover with the title on it if they knew the author was good for it ;)

In my other go-to group we're discussing sampling passages from books as an effective form of attracting readers since if you give a reader assurance they could flip to any page of your book and be entertained or intrigued it's a real good boost in letting the writing speak for itself.


message 28: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Owen wrote: "So people come to this book primed to view in a positive light, and the cover, the blurb etc, carry much less weight."

That's exactly what I am saying. There are tons of factors. Getting caught up in making sure you follow the 'rules' isn't a surefire way to get sales. If people went by covers alone, my least selling book would be my best seller. If they went by blurbs alone, I'd be up a creek.


message 29: by Maurice (new)

Maurice Miller (mauricegmiller) | 116 comments V.M. wrote: "There are lots of these paid tools floating around: Kindle Samurai is another: http://kindlesamurai.net/

There's an entire marketplace for 3rd party software that claims to give your book the edg..."


Interesting...I checked out Kindle Samurai, and the new version of Kindle Spy (v4), that just became available on Thursday, now has a very similar color coded grid with the yes/no fields.

I agree not a "must have" for authors, but I think it's a good value for finding keywords, and a fun tool to use.


message 30: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Courtney wrote: "In my other go-to group we're discussing sampling passages from books as an effective form of attracting readers since if you give a reader assurance they could flip to any page of your book and be entertained or intrigued it's a real good boost in letting the writing speak for itself..."

May I ask what people think about that? I brought that topic up in another group, but as an alternative to a blurb, and the consensus there was that it not a desirable alternative. How to do both, or if that was redundant to the sample (etc) was not really addressed.


message 31: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Christina wrote: "Getting caught up in making sure you follow the 'rules' isn't a surefire way to get sales."

I'm probably starting to sound kinda senile at this point, but yes, that's the crux. 'Rules' get promulgated (somehow). People like to follow rules because they offer the promise of control. The promise is often illusory -- especially so for us. The result is stress. Personally, stress (avoiding it) is a big reason why I write books. So I reduce stress by not placing my faith in 'rules'. (I recognize that's easier said than done.)


message 32: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments Owen - the census we had as readers was posting non-spoiler snippets on social media outlets proves an author can carry a story when "nobody is looking" so to speak. Posting a good exchange that reinforces the premise without giving anything away shows what an author is capable of when they're not trying to make a good impression or impress, like in sampling the first few pages.

Every author is trying to be on top of their game when writing plot relevant stuff but showing how all the in-between places can be fun or worth reading speaks volumes for an author's overall story.

I wouldn't recommend doing that in place of a blurb but it might work well in groups or blogs :)


message 33: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Courtney wrote: "Owen - the census we had as readers was posting non-spoiler snippets on social media outlets proves an author can carry a story when "nobody is looking" so to speak. Posting a good exchange that r..."

Thanks! That's a valuable insight. We've tried to do something like that by releasing sample chapters through our blog. It does seem to help. (It would likely help more if we could get people to read our blog.)


message 34: by Jim (new)

Jim I just wanted to send a big THANK YOU to Owen--and to all of you!--for the intelligent and valuable information you've been providing here.


message 35: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments I thought this might be an interesting update for people here. Hugh Howey has a blog article on the topic of gatekeepers for indie publishing. It touches on some of the issues that come up in this group, and I think is a worthwhile read for indie authors. (In general, I think Hugh has a good perspective on indie publishing as a business, as well as presenting valuable data.)

https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...


message 36: by Igzy (new)

Igzy Dewitt (IgzyDewitt) | 148 comments Owen wrote: "I thought this might be an interesting update for people here. Hugh Howey has a blog article on the topic of gatekeepers for indie publishing. It touches on some of the issues that come up in this ..."

Very, very interesting read - both the discussion and the article you posted.


message 37: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Igzy wrote: "Very, very interesting read - both the discussion and the article you posted.
..."


Hugh concluded with this: "I have some ideas as well on how to win over new readers to the fold and grow that total pie. More on that in a future blog post…"

I'm very much looking forward to that blog post.


message 38: by Stanton (new)

Stanton Swafford (stantonswafford) | 12 comments I purchased Kindle Spy for $47 about a month ago. I'd say it was a good investment. It's kind of fun to use too. I narrowed down my keywords/phrases within an hour. I'll publish my first novel next month. The three color codes they use are helpful.


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