Tag Archives: Shadow of Stone

The Indie Experiment Continues: Tags and Pricing for Ebooks

Despite the fact that I’ve gone back to dedicating a couple of days a week to marketing, Yseult still has not gotten back above ten copies a day in sales. At least it’s (mostly) hanging in there on the Top 100 list in historical fantasy. (Right now it’s off again, sigh.) But who knows, without my extra efforts it might have totally fallen off the radar by now. Just dropping marketing efforts completely for a couple of weeks is another experiment I should conduct in this brave new world of digital publishing. When I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Anyway, in order to learn a bit more about this new undertaking of mine, on my “marketing” days I’ve been hanging out on the Kindle Boards in the Writers’ Cafe section, reading threads that look promising from a marketing perspective, such as which book blogs out there will do reviews of ebooks. One of the things those wise folks with much more experience than me shared was the importance of “tags” for product placement on Amazon.

That sounded vaguely familiar to me, and I seemed to remember having read something about tags when researching selling ebooks in Kindle format. I even thought that I had listed several tags when uploading the book.

But when I went to look at the tags for Yseult (the tags are just below the customer reviews), several of the tags I thought I’d specified weren’t there. And a couple were there that were misleading: “Kindle free book” and “Kindle freebie” — but Yseult was only free for two days. Nonetheless, that meant anyone searching for free books would find mine and might well be disappointed.

Luckily, you can disagree with tags, which lowers their ranking. By default, Amazon only displays the ten most popular tags for any given item, and this also effects how it comes up in searches. And with the help of the folks on the Kindle boards, the “free” references have fallen off the top ten list for Yseult.

Another thing I’ve been reading a lot about lately is pricing. Many indie authors swear by the 99 cent ebook, even though you only get 35% royalties rather than 70%. The argument for the super-low price is that it’s so low, a lot of people will buy your book without thinking. But will you then be selling to your target audience? Will you be getting worse reviews because someone who usually reads military fiction picked up your romance entitled “Flames of Normandy”? Others say the 0.99 price point is starting to acquire a stigma (if the author is throwing her book away for less than a buck, it can’t be any good, right?) On the other end of the scale, I bumped into one guy who’s selling his fantasy ebooks for 6.99 a pop and is relatively successful at it. (Hey, if traditional publishing can do, why can’t I? Besides, I can pay the bills faster that way.)

There doesn’t seem to be any right or wrong where pricing is concerned; you just have to experiment. But here’s a bit more reading on the matter, if you’re interested:

Are eBooks Too Cheap?: Indie Authors Question 99 Cent Price

Zoe Winters on E-book Pricing: Does Low-balling Attract the Wrong Kind of Reader?

Anyway, I’m going to be experimenting with pricing a bit myself and intend to raise the price of Yseult to 4.95 come Feb. 1. It is a 190,000 word novel that took me years to write, after all. If the price makes my sales disappear into nothingness, I can change it again. That’s one of the joys of being an ebook author — I’m in control. And you know what? On my 2.99 ebook I’m earning about the same per book as I did for the German hardcover at 19.95 Euros.

As far as balance is concerned (see my last couple of posts), organizing tasks in days rather than hours seems to be working quite well for me. I’m about a fourth of the way through editing Shadow of Stone. Next week, I want to send the first chapter to several professional editors to decide who to hire. After that, I should soon be able to announce a tentative publication date for the follow-up novel to Yseult.

I would be curious — how many of you would be willing to pay 4.95 for an ebook? I’ve paid that much a few times, especially before a vacation when I didn’t want to be lugging too many heavy books around. But I may be pushing the envelope a bit here, especially as a new indie author, and despite all my other publications, which don’t seem to count for much in this brave new world, as much as I like it. 🙂

Results of KDP Select Promotion: Yseult #20 in Historical Fantasy

… and that’s PAID for Kindle. 🙂

I am stunned and amazed at how well my first freebie promotion worked. I can’t say exactly how many free downloads Yseult got, but when I first checked after the promotion, it was at over 8600 units. Now it’s at over 8700, with 31 units borrowed (for which Amazon pays authors a per unit price, depending on the funds in the Kindle Prime borrowing pot). So no matter how you look at it, it’s a couple hundred dollars in a couple of days. The price for the cover art is already paid for. (Plug: Derek is great to work with, and provided several initial designs before I narrowed it down by asking readers here and on Facebook and Twitter. Check him out!)

Unfortunately, I have not been as successful at getting back to working on original fiction again. My brain seems to function in gears, and now it’s in marketing gear, which makes it very hard for me to shift back into creation gear. I have started work on a new story story collaboration, and I’ve gotten Shadow of Stone into Scrivener for editing purposes, but that’s not new stuff. At least it’s fiction again. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m bad at balancing. But if I want to make a career as an indie author, something I really have to learn is going back and forth between making new words and promoting my work.

If anyone has any tips on how to strike a balance between marketing and creation, please share!

A New Look and Some New Projects

Did a lot of work on redesigning my blog in the last couple of days. Chose a new theme, and added a bunch of links to my publications and anthologies containing my stories. Still need to do a lot more, but at least it’s a start. What do folks think – was it worth the work?

I also finished the hard copy revisions for Chameleon in a Mirror, my Aphra Behn time travel novel. I was hoping to hire a freelance editor of my acquaintance, but she’s booked solid through December. I wanted to get the ebook put together before Christmas, though. Does anyone have any suggestions?

This week, I finally started critiquing again on Codex. I got really bad about that while I was working on Shadow of Stone, so I’m pleased that I’m finally getting back into a critique group. A couple of the collabs I’ve done recently have been through Codex as well; I neglected that great community far too long, and it feels good to be back.

The next project I want to tackle is finishing my Callisto story. After that, I’m a little unsure what to do next. Should I go ahead with the Aphra Behn novel? Or should I work on Yseult instead, my retelling of the Tristan and Isolde tale? Since that has been published in translation in German, Dutch, and Italian, I know there’s a potential audience, and the original manuscript has gone through the editing process. Any thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated!