Tag Archives: selfpub

A Good Resource for eBook Sale Sites

I haven’t had a lot of time recently to update my various pages for places you can advertise eBook promos, so I thought I would share this site I found:

https://blog.reedsy.com/book-promotion-services/

It has an especially nice feature that you can click a button to only show free sites.

I should soon have news on the publishing front regarding Ygerna. Just waiting for the file back from the editor. 🙂

Ygerna cover

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Starting Out as an Indie Author: Ebook Pricing

Once you’ve written your book, had it beta-read, edited, proof-read, what have you; once you’ve got a great, eye-catching cover and gripping book description; once you’ve formatted the interior (or had someone do it for you) so that your book looks professional on an eReader; after all that, then you are ready to publish.

Only: what price are you going to charge for your book?

There are many philosophies out there regarding eBook pricing, from those who are offended by the idea of pricing their book for less than a Grande Caffe Latte, to those who who advocate “price pulsing” (raising and lowering prices on a regular basis in response to sales, or lack of same), those who swear by 99c to reach as many readers as possible, or those who set a price without much thought and never touch it again.

What it comes down to is: what is going to make you as an author the most money and get you the most readers?

Of course, like all things, it’s not quite as simple as that. There are a number of things to take into consideration when pricing your eBook. Here are some of the questions to ask yourself when determining the prices for your eBooks:

– What royalties will the price point earn you per book?
– How long is it?
– What genre is it in?
– Do you already have a fan base?
– What are you personally comfortable with price-wise?

You may have noticed that I didn’t include the question, “What prices are readers paying?” The variables for that are so huge, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to try and base your pricing decisions on that. There have been several surveys done on what readers are willing to pay, such as that by the Fussy Librarian.

It is interesting data, and certainly worth taking into consideration. But you and I are never going to earn anything off of the 9.4% of readers who only download free books (and those are only the 9.4% who admit it.)

Ebook Royalties

One of the first things to take into consideration when pricing your book is: What percentage are you as an author going to earn of the cover price? (As an indie author, you are the publisher and what you earn from your books are not royalties, strictly speaking, but for the sake of simplicity, I will use it as an umbrella term for the percentage the author earns from a sale.) Here is a breakdown according to eBook retailer:

Ebook Royalties

Most retailers require that you set the price the same with them as with all other stores where you sell the eBook. From this table, it’s fairly obvious that the best price range for your book is between $2.99 and $9.99. But the percentage the author earns is only part of the picture. Although the royalties are lower, many authors swear by the 99c prince point, saying that the volume makes up for the lower royalties. I have had little success at 99c, except for short-term promotions, but as with all things, YMMV.

Length

An eBook does not have the same weight and heft as a physical book, so that readers do not have the same immediate signs communicating length. I personally suspect that this is one of the main reasons I see a certain reluctance among the eBook audience to pay more for longer books. While this might feel unfair to the author, to the reader, an eBook is an eBook is an eBook — at least in my experience.

As a result, I have ended up pricing most of my books at $2.99 — from collections of short stories, to novellas, to novels of over 100,000 words. Only for my “doorstoppers” of nearly 200,000 words each, Yseult and Shadow of Stone, do I charge more than $2.99.

While many readers are unwilling to plunk down much more for twice as many+ words in digital format, at the same time, it is still going to be hard to try and get 70% royalties from your readers for short fiction — with certain exceptions, which brings me to the next point, “Genre.”

Genre

When deciding how to price your eBooks, I highly recommend conducting some research to see what other eBooks in the same genre are selling for. I write primarily in science fiction and fantasy, and I am only one author among many, and my experience is limited by what I write. In other genres, readers are willing to pay very different prices.

Take for example erotica. In erotica, a common practice is to charge $2.99 for short stories, and rely on borrows through Kindle Unlimited to actually make money. Readers put up with this because it’s smut, and they don’t care what the price is because they’re getting their reads for “free.”

In most other genres, if you charge more than 99c for a short story, you will either get 0 sales or be vilified in reviews — unless, of course, you already have a fan base that will snap up everything you write.

Another example: there are a number of New Adult, Romance and Paranormal writers who are releasing short episodes of their books in serial for $2.99 each, with the first episode free. So if you have the right product and can reach the right audience, you will also be able to demand very different prices than what I have described here.

What price are you comfortable with?

While some authors just starting out may think $2.99 for a full-length novel is equivalent to giving their work away, let me put it in perspective briefly. My novel Yseult was originally published in translation with Random House Germany as Flamme und Harfe. It was over 700 pages long and sold in hardcover for €19.95. And I was making less per book on that €19.95 hardcover than I am making now on the eBook at $3.99.

On the other hand, I no longer care to give away my Big Fat Fantasies for free in the hopes of seeing more sales at some future date. That may be a decision that is costing me sales in the long run and that I will eventually have to revise, but for now I am trying to find other ways of getting eyeballs on my big books.

Conclusion

For the most part, I think it is safe to say that readers expect eBook prices to be lower than for a standard paperback. And for an unknown author with no fan base, the lower the price, the better. If you are considering publishing a first book and have no other works ready for publication, it might be wise to wait until you have a couple more books almost ready to go. Having one book free to entice readers to try out your work can be a powerful marketing tool.

But keep in mind, all I can give you in these posts on “starting out as an indie author” are tips based on my own experience. Before you decide on prices for your eBooks, do more research, especially in your genre. And good luck!

Further reading:

https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/the-great-e-book-pricing-question/

Starting out as an indie author: Where to promote a 99c eBook sale

Starting out as an indie author

Here are some of the sites I’ve found that will promote 99c sale ebooks (and often sale books up to $2.99, as long as the books are deeply discounted). Most of them are ones I use myself. I’ve left out a number of sites that have no information on followers or subscribers, as well as those that tend to get bad marks from the indie writers on KBoards. Even so, that’s no guarantee that all of these sites will be effective. I suspect a lot has to do with genre, since sites that work for me get panned by other writers, while sites other writers swear by have been a washout for me. So remember, YMMV.

Free

Books on the Knob

Bargain Booksy (Free and paid)

Bookscream

Read Free.ly

Reading Deals – Books should be a minimum of 50 pages long and have at least 5 reviews and a 4 star average. They also have the option to pay $29 for a guaranteed listing

Choosy Bookworm – Guaranteed listings start at $25. (My results with a paid listing were disappointing, but people report good results with their free slots.)

Awesome Gang – Also offer a featured 2 day listing for $10.

The Naughty List – For romance and erotica

EBookStage – Must have at least 5 reviews and a rating of 4 or higher. Require a number cross promotions for which you receive points. If you don’t have enough points for a free promo, you can pay for a slot. Prices start at $10.

Book Angel – Book must be PG-13! Only for books under 1 British Pound that are available in the UK store.

Paid:

Read Cheaply – Prices start at $25, depending on genre. Note: Do not try to book an ad with them if you’ve had a book listed within the last month. http://readcheaply.com/partners/

Bknights on Fiverr – https://www.fiverr.com/bknights/

Book Barbarian – Prices starting at $20. Requires at least 10 reviews and a rating of at least 3.5. Only for science fiction and fantasy. Usually necessary to book at least a month in advance. One book per author within a 30 day period. http://bookbarbarian.com/ad-requirements/

Bookbub – This is the heavy hitter in paid advertising; it is also Very Expensive. https://www.bookbub.com/partners/pricing

Ereader News Today (ENT) – Prices starting at $30.
http://ereadernewstoday.com/pricing/

ManyBooks.net – Prices starting at $25. Requires at least 10 reviews and an average of 4 or higher. My results here used to be quite good, but recently they have been disappointing, especially given the price. http://manybooks.net/promote.php

Booksends – Requires at least 5 reviews, with a high overall average, and an attractive cover, with a planned sale price of less than $3 and at least 50% off full price. Prices start at $10 and increase according to sale price and genre. Through this site, it is also possible to advertise with EReaderIQ.
http://booksends.com/advertise.php

eReaderiQ – It is also possible to book eReaderiQ separately. Prices starting at $5. http://www.ereaderiq.com/authors/submissions/dds/

Booklover’s Heaven
– For sale books priced at 3.99 or below. Requires 10 or more reviews and an average of at least 4 stars. $5 for a listing.
http://bookloversheaven.com/authors/

Buck Books – For 99c sale books. Books must be at least 60 pages long, and have at least 10 reviews with an average of 3.8 or higher. Prices start at $9 for fiction. Must be booked at least six weeks in advance.
http://buckbooks.net/buck-books-promotions/

BookGorilla – Prices starting at $40 depending on genre and price. Usually necessary to book at least 6 weeks in advance.
http://www.bookgorilla.com/advertise

Books Butterfly – Various pricing options starting at $50, depending on how many readers you want to reach.
http://www.booksbutterfly.com/order/paidbookslots/

Robin Reads – $40.
http://robinreads.com/author-signup/

ContentMo – Various promo plans starting at $1.99 a day.
http://contentmo.com/99-book-promo-2015/

Digital Book Today – Offers a variety of advertising options, some of which are free. http://digitalbooktoday.com/join-our-team/paid-and-free-promotions/

Ebook Discovery – Prices start at $14. https://ebookdiscovery.leadpages.net/ebook-discovery-authors-only/

Ebookhounds – $10 for a listing. Extra options available as well.
http://www.ebookhounds.com/books/submit/

The Fussy Librarian – Promotional options starting at $8, depending on genre. Books must have at least 10 reviews and a 4.0 rating, except for new releases. http://www.thefussylibrarian.com/for-authors/

FreebooksHub.com – Promotions starting at $10.
http://www.freebookshub.com/authors/

Kindle Books and Tips – Prices starting at $25. Books must have at least 8 reviews, at least 4 of which must be Amazon Verified Purchase reviews. No short stories. http://fkbt.com/for-authors/

GenreCrave – Prices starting at $50.
http://www.genrecrave.com/schedule-today/

OHFB (One Hundred Free Books) – Prices for a guaranteed listing start at $75. https://ohfb.com/advertise/

The eReader Cafe – Advertising options starting at $25. http://theereadercafe.com/sell-more-books/

Free & Discounted Books – Promotion for eBooks from 0.99-2.99 starting at $8. http://freediscountedbooks.com/99-cent-sales/

Hot Zippy – Various promo plans starting at $23. http://hotzippy.net/feature-your-book.html

Ebook Soda – Prices starting at $15. Kboards authors report that it isn’t particularly effective. http://www.ebooksoda.com/

Bargain Booksy – Prices for an ad start at $25 and depend on the genre. http://bargainbooksy.com/sell-more-books/

Book Goodies – $10 to promote a Countdown Deal.
http://bookgoodies.com/bargain-books/kdp-countdown-bargain-books/

eBook Betty – Listings with various review criteria starting at $18 http://bettybookfreak.com/authors/

Book Raid – Prices are per click. Don’t take Paypal, only credit card.
https://bookraid.com

Facebook

It is also possible to list your book on a number of Facebook groups specifically for 99c eBooks, usually while it is on sale:

Author 99cent Book Promotions: https://www.facebook.com/groups/444695995585913/

Addicted to eBooks: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Addicted-to-eBookscom/277297772316389

EReader1-US: https://www.facebook.com/eReader1.US/ Instructions are here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/ereader1-us/book-promotions-including-self-promo-by-authors-and-publishers-and-their-friends/448662358501661

If you are intending to do a free run for one of your books, check out my article on where to promote free books here, and permafree books here.

If you know of other effective sites for promoting a 99c sale, please let me know in the comments!

If you found this blog post helpful, perhaps you would be interested in the book, Starting Out as an Indie Author! You can learn more here.

Russell Blake’s Six Things Successful Indie Authors Have

Great post the other day by indie thriller writer Russell Blake, who manages to earn six figures a year with his self-published books. This is how he distills the habits of a successful indie author:

What do all of these authors have in common, though? All these indies who are making serious, and in some cases, insane, bank? First, they publish regularly. As in once every few months, and in some cases, once every month. Second, they work in genres that will support them. While most of the top earners are in romance or one of its offshoots, others are in science fiction, which voraciously consumes indie work; some are in my genre (action thrillers), some in mystery, some in fantasy. Third, they all work long hours and take this extremely seriously. Fourth, they operate their publishing businesses like businesses, not like hobbies. They have production schedules they stick to. They market and promote. They invest in professional help when necessary and grasp that you have to spend money to make it. Fifth, they write books readers enjoy reading, as opposed to books their muse dictates they write. That’s an important distinction, because what we as authors often want to write might not be all that marketable. So we compromise based on our understanding of the market. And sixth, they’re constantly adjusting their sails to best negotiate treacherous water and ever-shifting winds. They’re pragmatic. And most have great senses of humor, as well as a keen appreciation of irony. That goes with the gig, I suppose. As does pragmatism.

Of course, your mileage varies. It all comes down to how much you want to
1) devote to writing, and
2) devote to the market (which might involve giving up on that beloved project involving atheists colonizing a planet in space to flee fundamentalists …)

I’m not condoning all of Russell’s opinions in this post. I’m just offering it up as food for thought.

You can read the entire post here.

Using Keywords to Show up in Searches: Review of Supercharge Your Kindle Sales

Starting out as an indie author

Last month, before Chameleon in a Mirror had its free run and Island of Glass was available for pre-release, I did an experiment. At the beginning of October, I got a review copy from Nick Stephenson of his book Supercharge Your Kindle Sales. While he made a great case for using keywords to help make your book more visible, I didn’t want to write a review until I had some actual results on which to base my judgment.

Supercharge Your Kindle Sales

I’ve already pointed out in another post in the series “Starting out as an Indie Author” how you can use keywords to get into niche categories. The first section of Supercharge Your Kindle Sales represents another method of using keywords: finding keywords that will help your book’s visibility when readers type in search terms, another way besides categories that your book can be found. Not only that, Stephenson says it is important to use keywords tied to genres that are selling well, but where the competition is not as great. The author provides step-by-step instructions in how to do this, either manually by testing keywords in the Amazon search bar and analyzing the results yourself, or automatically, using paid tools such as Kindle Samurai.

My first attempts at supercharging didn’t have much of an effect. Downloads of my permafree story Gawain and Ragnell picked up, but everything else remained about the same. The difference here, I believe, is that G&R already had a certain amount of visibility through being in the top 100 list in Arthurian fiction.

So before writing my review, I decided to wait and see what effect, if any, the new keywords might have on a free promotion. I hadn’t tested a free run with one of my novels in over a year. Back then, without doing any advertising, I managed to give away about 300 copies of my Arthurian novel, Shadow of Stone. This time, without doing any advertising, I managed to give away about 2000 copies of my time travel into literary history, Chameleon in a Mirror.

I still wasn’t completely sold on the method. What matters after a free run is how well the book sells and how long it remains visible, after all. Now, over two weeks after the promotion, CIAM is still in a top 100 list. No only that, Island of Glass is in *2* top 100 lists.

To show you how this method can help, I took a couple of screenshots while CIAM was doing particularly well.

Keyword search

Keyword search
Keyword screenshots

As you can see, CIAM was showing up right at the top for both “time travel historical” and “fantasy time travel.” The book is no longer quite as high with those search terms, but it is still on the first page — which is where you want your book to be.

I also attempted to follow Nick Stephenson’s instructions on how to improve your mailing list (the second half of the book), but that has been much less successful for me than changing my keywords. The information and tips on keywords alone, however, make this book worth reading. But as I mentioned above, a change in keywords would probably have to be done in conjunction with some other kind of promotion to get your book high enough in the rankings to show up in search results in the first place.

Other posts in this series:

Starting out as an indie author: preparing your manuscript for ebook retailers

Starting out as an indie author: Using distributors for getting into online bookstores

Starting out as an indie author: Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Xinxii (Using distributors, part 2)

Starting out as an indie author: The costs of self-publishing

Starting out as an indie author: Why editing is important — and who can skip the expense after all

Starting out as an indie author: Creating your own covers

Starting out as an indie author: Interview with Kate Sparkes

Starting Out as an Indie Author: Getting Your Books into Google Play

Starting out as an indie author: Guest post on A.M. Leibowitz’s blog on the advantages of self-publishing

Starting out as an indie author

Today, for the publication of Island of Glass, my fellow WIPpeteer A.M. Leibowitz hosted me for a guest blog post on the advantages of self-publishing. Here an excerpt:

Speed

A traditionally published novel can easily take up to two years from the time it is accepted to the time it actually comes out. And that isn’t even counting the years of sending the manuscript out to agents and editors.

By comparison, self-publishing is almost instant. E-publishing may take up to a day from the time you hit the publish button until the time your book is available. Print on Demand (PoD) takes a little longer, but in my experience, the physical copy of your book is available in less than a week. Of course, that doesn’t include editing and cover design, but a self-publisher can probably have that completed in weeks rather than years.

You can read the rest of the article here.

To balance it out, I will eventually have to do a post on the disadvantages of self-publishing. But for now, all you get from me are the positives. 🙂

Potential Self-Publishing Mudholes: A guest post on Beth Camp’s blog

In connection with the blog blitz for the upcoming publication of Island of Glass, fellow writer Beth Camp hosted me on her blog to talk about some potential mistakes indie writers can make. Here a short excerpt from the introduction:

The beauty and the curse of self-publishing is that it is so much easier and faster than going the traditional route, which can take years and (most of the time) still result in nothing. A fact that is often ignored is that self-publishing — while faster — most of the time also results in nothing. Which leads me straight to the first mistake made by indie authors.

You can read the rest over on Beth’s blog:

http://bethandwriting.blogspot.de/2014/10/potential-self-publishing-mudholes.html

Starting out as an indie author: Using keywords for getting into niche categories on Amazon

Starting out as an indie author

When you publish an ebook through Amazon’s KDP dashboard, you are allowed to select two categories, such as Fantasy/Historical or Fantasy/Epic. But not all of the browse categories on Amazon are available through the dashboard. I’ve written before about how important it can be for sales to get into the right categories here and here.

Much of what I wrote in those posts, however, is now obsolete, at least as far as strategies on how to get into obscure categories is concerned. But it is still true that for the sake of visibility, it’s important to be in categories where the competition isn’t as strong (unless you’re selling hundreds of copies a day, that is). Some of the subcategories for ebooks that aren’t options in the dashboard are wonderfully intimate little niches that will keep you book visible even with a much lower sales ranking. Because if your book drops out of the top 100, it is officially dead (believe me, I know).

But whereas once you had to write Amazon directly in order to be listed in the categories, now you need to use keywords.

When you publish through KDP, one of your options is to type in seven keywords. Little information is given as to their purpose, and it is easy to underestimate how important they can be. In the KDP help pages, however, there is extensive information on which keywords to use to get into various categories that can’t be chosen directly. Here are some examples that in my own experience have proven useful:

Science Fiction & Fantasy Keywords

Literature & Fiction Keywords

Teen & Young Adult Category Keywords

Of course it makes no sense to aim for a category just because there isn’t as much competition. But if you can find some niche categories where your book would fit, I highly recommend using keywords to get into them. It just might give your book the edge it needs.

Other posts in this series:

Starting out as an indie author: preparing your manuscript for ebook retailers

Starting out as an indie author: Using distributors for getting into online bookstores

Starting out as an indie author: Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Xinxii (Using distributors, part 2)

Starting out as an indie author: The costs of self-publishing

Starting out as an indie author: Why editing is important — and who can skip the expense after all

Starting out as an indie author: Creating your own covers

Starting out as an indie author: Interview with Kate Sparkes

Starting Out as an Indie Author: Getting Your Books into Google Play

Starting Out as an Indie Author: Getting Your Books into Google Play

Starting out as an indie author

In an earlier post in this series, I mentioned that since I’d heard so many horror stories about Google Play randomly cutting prices of indie books, and Amazon subsequently following suit — with serious consequences for the incomes of the writers involved — I decided not to try to sell my books through that venue.

But then I learned (on Kboards of course) that the stories I’d heard, while true, could be avoided with creative pricing. Apparently Google discounts all books in pretty much the same way. But while the percentages hover around a 23% discount, the discounts jump around a bit, and don’t apply to the lowest price points (supposedly). Luckily, the smart folks on the Internet have figured out what you have to do to get your book priced the way you want it. This in turn will keep Amazon happy and they won’t discount your book below the 70% royalty sweet spot of 2.99.

Here is a compilation of some of the suggestions I’ve found around the Internet for how to price your book on Google Play to make it end up the price you want:

Desired price / Price you need to enter on Google Play:

99c / 99c
1.49 / 1.49 (Apparently Google does not discount these)
1.99 / 2.54
2.99 / 3.93
3.99 / 5.18
4.99 / 6.48
5.99 / 7.78

I don’t know if all of these are actually 100% correct; you might need to experiment a bit within the price range to get the results you want.

Becoming a “partner” on Google Play

You cannot publish with Google Play without a Gmail account, so if you don’t have that yet, it’s the first thing you need to do. Once you’ve signed up, you can go here to get started publishing:

https://play.google.com/books/publish/

The Google Play dashboard is much less intuitive than Amazon, B&N, Draft2Digital and Kobo, the sales sites I have primarily used until now. On the left you have the following options: book catalog, analytics & reports, promotions, payment center, and account settings. Today I will only be going into “book catalog” and “payment center” since that is what you need in order to publish a book. (The “account settings” automatically gets populated with your Google account info and any publisher info you add when you sign in.) You do the actual publishing from “book catalog”:

Google Play

But although it is farther down in the list, I suggest starting with the item “payment center”: if you don’t, your book will not be published. The fist couple of times I tried to publish Part I of my serialized version of Yseult, I kept getting the error message “PRICE MISSING OR NOT APPLICABLE” which didn’t make a lot of sense to me, since Google allows you to set the price to free. Finally, I googled the error message and found out that Google Play would not allow me to publish until I entered my payment info. So maybe that should be first in line … ?

Anyway, in the payment center, click “Payment Profiles” and enter your bank account info. GP does not allow PayPal, unfortunately. If your bank is in the US, for Sales Territories select “WORLD – US/USD” and under “CURRENCY CONVERSION” TURNED ON.

Once you’ve saved your payment information, you can go to “Book Catalog” and actually publish your book. Click on the “Add book” button. If you already have an ISBN for your book, enter it here, otherwise check the box that you don’t. The “Book details” pane opens, which should be largely self-explanatory. One thing that bears mentioning, however, is that for GP you have to enter you bio for EVERY BOOK. Interesting, huh? The leading search engine in the world can’t find the biographical info for for a single author account …

Once you’ve entered the book details, in the next pane you upload your ebook and cover. The book itself can be either EPUB or PDF. In order to save yourself grief and repeated uploads, if you are uploading an Epub file, I suggest testing it with EPUB Validator first:

http://validator.idpf.org/

The next pane is for pricing. No dropdown menu for the currency, unfortunately, so if you’re in the States, enter USD manually. The box after “for” should be WORLD. For the price, see the list above. 🙂

The “Settings” pane is for metadata. The format is of course “digital” and for the subject, enter keywords that will get your book into the appropriate categories, such as “fantasy” and “historical.” The form then makes suggestions that you can choose from. For most of the other options, you’re fine with the defaults, at least as far as I could determine.

The final pane is for publishing, where you can decide whether to publish only to Google Books or also to Google Play as well. Seems a no-brainer to me to choose both. 🙂

I have only just started publishing with Google Play, so I can’t say yet whether all the work will actually be worth it. But it was fun finding the free book with my smartphone and downloading it. If you have Google Play, please do so as well! There don’t seem to be any Nestvolds other than me in the GP store, so the free book should be pretty easy to find.

Once I’ve been on Google Play longer, have published a few more things, and understand the system better, I will post more.

Other posts in this series:

Starting out as an indie author: preparing your manuscript for ebook retailers

Starting out as an indie author: Using distributors for getting into online bookstores

Starting out as an indie author: Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Xinxii (Using distributors, part 2)

Starting out as an indie author: The costs of self-publishing

Starting out as an indie author: Why editing is important — and who can skip the expense after all

Starting out as an indie author: Creating your own covers

Starting out as an indie author: Interview with Kate Sparkes

On splitting up a big book: Turning Yseult into episodes

As many of you following this blog know, I started my career as an indie author after I got the rights back to the original English of my novel Yseult, which was published in German as Flamme und Harfe by Random House Germany in 2009.

Flamme und Harfe, Ruth Nestvold

I published the English original in January 2012 on my own with this cover from the talented Derek Murphy of CreativIndie Covers:

Yseult, Ruth Nestvold

Since the original publisher of Yseult / Flamme und Harfe, Random House Germany, told me they were interested in a sequel (which they decided they were not interested in after all), when I published Yseult, I already had the next doorstopper waiting in the wings, Shadow of Stone, which I published in June of 2012.

That too sold quite well, and I began to imagine that I was on my way to a wonderful career as an indie author.

Halt.

Readers started wanting to know when the next “installment” would be available. Of books that were both close to 200,000 words, or over 500 pages long. Unfortunately, I don’t write fast enough to produce novels of that size every year, and I lost readers.

I started writing a prequel to The Pendragon Chronicles, Ygerna, hoping to make it free and attract more readers that way, but I soon noticed that the story of Arthur’s mother was too complicated for me to finish off in a couple ten thousand words, and it ended up on the back burner. I do have a free short story from the second novel available, Gawain and Ragnell, and that has helped my sales somewhat, giving potential readers a taste of the world of The Pendragon Chronicles. So I know for a fact that permafree can help your sales.

Then at some point I started noticing something new happening in ebook publishing: it seemed as if a lot of the most successful indie authors were publishing their ebooks in episodes or as serials, in chunks from between 50 to 200 pages. Like with a TV show, each episode might bring a single plot thread to a conclusion, but there was also often some kind of cliffhanger to make sure the reader came back for the next installment. An added advantage of the episode format is that the author can make the first “book” of the novel free in order to entice readers to give it a try.

Slowly an experiment started to take shape in my mind. I had these two Big Fat Fantasies, after all, together close to 400,000 words. But in the era of ebooks, when the reader can’t judge a book by how heavy it is in her hand, books seem to be getting shorter. And while the true short story has yet to make a comeback, readers appear to be increasingly accepting of novella-length books. (This is all totally subjective and unscientific, so don’t quote me on it.)

Anyway, as a result of these observations, I have decided to launch an experiment. I am going to take the four books of Yseult apart — which, btw, is how I organized the novel long before the advent of ebooks — and offer them separately. I will try to make the first book free on Amazon as quickly as possible. Here is the pricing structure I’m considering for the serial version:

Part I: FREE
Part II: 99c (my take, 30c)
Part III: 2.99 (my take $2)
Part IV: 2.99 (my take $2)

My goal is not to make more money than with the complete novel, although that is what would happen if readers were only to buy the individual parts. But when I do this, I do not intend to unpublish Yseult. That will still be available for 4.99 for anyone who is enjoying the series enough to want to buy the novel. Mostly I’m just hoping that with parts 1 & 2 at free and 99c respectively, a few more readers will try out the series.

So recently I’ve been working on a template for the covers of the individual episodes. I wanted to use the cover of Yseult as a basis, to make sure that no one bought any of the episodes thinking it was a new story in The Pendragon Chronicles. At the same time, the covers should be distinctive enough to stand out from each other. Given those considerations, here’s the template I came up with for the series:

Yseult template

And here’s my first attempt at a single title:

Yseult-Part-1

My thought is to use different colors beneath the “celtic fringe” *g* on the left / west side of the cover as a visual signal of the differences between the books. And now, as I write this, it occurs to me that the color for the first book, which takes place in Ireland / Eriu, should be a dark green rather than the dark purple I have now. *g*

Anyway, I welcome any thoughts / feedback you have in the comments below!

I might land flat on my face with this experiment, but I’m not out of much more than a couple days worth of work making the new covers, formatting the individual sections, and uploading them to the various venues. Wish me luck. 🙂 And do please let me know what you think!