So my eBook, Any Tomorrow: The Calling, has been out at Amazon and all the major eBook distributors for a couple of months. How come I’m not rich yet? Gosh, if you read the user forums at Kindle, it seems like everyone who posts is selling upwards of 900 copies a month.
As I try to squeeze my writing, blogging, and career management into the requirements of my daily life, I sometimes get anxious about not having sold thousands of copies of my eBook. I can see, at least on Smashwords, that some folks have been interested enough to download samples of my eBook, but those are free, and it’s impossible to tell what they really thought of it or why they didn’t buy it.
All this concern is silly, of course. When I think about it objectively I know that the eBook has only been on the market for a few months, I’m only beginning to learn about using social media to publicize it, and I’ve yet to seriously start working on managing my social media presence. Besides that, Any Tomorrow: The Calling probably only appeals to a rather limited niche audience, those who enjoy horror fantasy that includes graphic sex and violence.
And there are some concepts I’m still trying to get my head around. For instance, the idea of reducing the price or giving away copies of the eBook with the hope that this will encourage readers who bought the discounted or free copy to induce their friends to buy a copy at full price. The natural outcome of this would be that the expanded reader base will then, having been impressed by the first eBook, buy more of my eBooks as they become available. I know this is Economics 101 and that’s how marketing works, but right now I think it’s too early in the game for that.
The other concept that I still don’t quite get is sampling. Anyone can go out to Amazon or Smashwords and download ten percent of my eBook to read for free. From what I understand this is a random chunk of twenty or so pages from the text that are supposed to be representative of the entire eBook. Downloading a sample is the digital equivalent of sitting in Barnes & Noble and reading a book I haven’t purchased. I guess I’m not comfortable with downloading because I’m not comfortable sitting around a bookstore reading.
When I go to the bookstore looking for a book to read I typically glance at the blurb on the book jacket or on the back and maybe page through it while standing at the book rack. Then I buy it, take it home, and read it. I don’t sit in the coffee café and start reading it before I buy it. I want to take it home and let it surprise me. Maybe it’s a generational thing, being comfortable performing an inherently private act amid the shuffle of fellow readers.
But does this work with eBooks or does the Barnes & Noble parallel fall apart?
Thanks to e-everything, the sample can be downloaded virtually anywhere and read virtually anywhere. So unless you’re sequestered in your study, the experience is virtually the same, engaging in the private act of reading while out in public.
So all that makes me wonder about how important the description that accompanies the cover graphic is. If you go online to Amazon or Barnes & Noble you’ll see that I’ve provided a description of Any Tomorrow: The Calling, but I didn’t consider sampling. If I assume that the potential reader will download a sample, then perhaps the text that accompanies the cover graphic should include more of a “hook”, something to get the potential reader’s attention.
Sex! Violence! Physics! Horror at its most elemental. Worlds on the brink of destruction. Can a reticent fellowship save them? Find out in Any Tomorrow: The Calling. You won’t be able to put it down until you know all the answers.
How’s that? Would that make you download a sample? Can there be too much information in a book description? Is it possible to overwhelm the potential reader with information before he even reads the book? As I’ve posted before, I, personally, hate knowing the plot of a book before I read it. I mean, why plod through several hundred pages when you already pretty much know what’s going to happen just to see if there’s a twist at the end? I would probably use that time to read something that promises to be a total surprise to me.
The big question then is how to achieve a compromise between sensationalism that captures the potential reader’s attention and providing a glimpse into the story without giving away the plot. That’s a tough call that, I suppose, professional marketers have down to a formula peppered by key words. As a self-published author I have to figure that out for myself.
If you have any thoughts on this issue or would like to comment on this or any of my other posts, please select the Leave a comment link and let me know what’s on your mind. I look forward to your comments. Thanks.