Why Do I Blog?

As an author, “they” say you need a social media platform. It’s true. You should have somewhere you can stand up and be seen/heard. For some people, that platform is Facebook or Twitter. But, I just don’t feel like I get as much out of those as I do here. For me, it’s about killing two birds with one stone. Yes, I need an author platform, but I also enjoy sharing my experiences as a self-published author with others. I learned a ton from folks who shared and I want to pay it forward by doing the same for someone else. I like feeling like I’m being helpful.

So, after writing on this blog since June, I’ve gained 150+ followers and average ~100 visitors a week. My three goals for the end of the year are as follows:

Gain another 100 followers

Average 200 visitors a week

Get people to actually comment on my posts!

This is part of the WordPress Blogging 201 challenge. I’m looking forward to seeing what I learn over the next few weeks and applying it to what I blog about. If you haven’t heard of Blogging 201, you can check it out here.

Have your own goals for your blog? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by!

Why Do Some Books Sell Themselves? 3 Possible Factors

Shut-up-and-take-my-money

Authors dream of readers like you… 🙂

Whenever discussing a marketing plan for self-published books, I make a point of saying, “Books don’t sell themselves.” You have to get it out there in front of readers. You have to be willing to spend money in order to make money. But, some books seem to need little more than a nudge and they’re off to the races. And, why is that? Case in point, my third self-published book (and, technically, first by me). It’s not breaking records by any means, but it’s the first book I’ve put out that manages to sell 1-2 copies a day with little (I ran a small ad back in mid-September) to no marketing on my part. Compare this to my other novels, which are adult suspense/thrillers, and could collect a ton of dust (and have!) if I didn’t promote them on a regular basis. So, what are some factors that might affect this? Let’s take a look at just a few possibilities.

1. Quality of the writing – Truly bad writing won’t sell. I don’t care how much you promote it. I’d like to think that, while my writing is far from perfect, it’s at least good enough to entertain readers. And, to me, that’s one of the most important qualities to have.

2. Genre – Let’s face it. Some genres just sell better than others. I personally know a few people who churn through 5-6 erotica or romance novels a month. And those types of readers are often not picky about who they read next or who published them. They’re just looking for a good, well-written story. Romance sells. Self-published romance sells and competes very well with the top traditionally published authors. In fact, I’d argue that you can’t find the same level of competition in other genres, but that’s just my unscientific opinion. If you write erotica, I envy you. If you write good erotica at a high rate of speed, you can be a money-making machine. Honestly. They’re out there.

3. Topic/Category – So, you’ve got a well-written story in a genre that should be selling, but still no luck? Well, maybe rollerskating detective nuns aren’t everybody’s thing. Seriously, though. Maybe you’re topic is too niche. Or, is your story so mainstream that it looks like everything else in its category? This “factor” could go both ways. If your story is too different, you may find that new readers won’t take a chance on it. But, if your story is too similar to every other book in its category, you may find yourself competing with the big boys (and girls).

So, why does Danny Dirks sell with little to no promotion (in multiples countries, mind you)? Well, I think it gets help from all 3 of these factors. I think it’s well written, it’s a YA fantasy with dragons, and there isn’t a ton of competition in the “Arthurian” category (apparently). Even at a high ranking (see example below), it still graces the top 100 of 3 sub-categories.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,371 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#44 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Arthurian
#46 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children’s eBooks > Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths > Collections
#64 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Arthurian

What do you think are some other key factors that might make a book “sell itself”? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by!

Observations from a Book Fair

 

BelmarBookConBooth

I took this before I had my standing banner up (wind was an issue), but now I think I have to get some book stands… yep. Looks too flat. :-/

I did a book show on Sunday for the first time in what seems like a long time, though it was really just last year. I’ve done several shows since first publishing in 2011 and I was a little bit excited for this one. With doing physical shows, it can help to have a short-term memory. That isn’t to say you should forget what worked and what didn’t, but you should be able to go into it with a fresh attitude. It’s probably why I don’t do more than a couple of shows a year.

I sold 6 books in 6 hours. Three to one person. It’s actually as good as I’ve ever done at this kind of event. Now you see the need for the short term memory. Shows aren’t (typically) money-making events. They’re face-time events.

I considered the day a success, but not just for the sales (which did help me break even for the costs), but the simple fact of getting out and talking to readers and fellow writers. I spoke with many people, gave out a lot of business cards, and chatted with my booth neighbor, horror/sci-fi/paranormal author K. Edwin Fritz. It was a beautiful day and we had some laughs and shared stories about writing and publishing. We each had some sales and chatted about best marketing practices both in person and online. It was refreshing.

As it turned out, the town of Belmar was also having an Octoberfest that day. There was great foot traffic, but the most common thing I heard was, “I didn’t know this was going to be here today!” So, lots of foot traffic, but little in the way of book buying traffic. There were about 25 spaces, but only 20 authors showed, which was fine. They also tried doing panels and readings but, apparently, they didn’t realize there was going to be a live band right in front of the square where we were set up. Hey, it was their first time doing this, so things like that will happen.

I’ve got one more scheduled book-selling event this year, in November. And, while at this show, I was approached to speak at the New Jersey Speculative Fiction Writers monthly meeting next year. Looking forward to that opportunity. I’m also looking forward to doing a few more shows next year. This was my first with more than one paperback. With luck, I might have a fourth this time next year. I’m convinced that having more books helps to sell more books. It helps if they’re good as well.

If you’re doing a show soon, or considering doing a show, I wish you the best of luck. It’s often what you make of the experience that makes the event successful or not.

Last Day for My Kindle Countdown!

Just a quick note that today is the last day to pick up Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon for just $0.99 over at Amazon.

Mulraney_PENDRAGON_BOOK1_EbookEdition

Kindle Countdown Sale!

Mulraney_PENDRAGON_BOOK1_EbookEdition

For a limited time (9/24 to 9/30), you can get my YA fantasy novel, Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon for just $0.99 at Amazon.com. (update: looks like it’s finally live…phew) As always, the book is free for members of Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime. Thanks and enjoy! 😀

Finding that (major) error in your published work

My name is…?

It happens to the best of us. It happens to the worst of us even more. I’m talking about that major error you find in something you’ve published. It’s usually followed by stomach ulcers and weeping and gnashing of teeth. How could you have possibly missed this?! I’m not talking typo or grammar goof. I’m talking a major plot point. You know… like changing the character’s name from book #1 to book #2. We’ve all done this, though, right? Right?

Oy. I was glancing through Divisible by Six the other night. In preparation of crafting book #3, it occurred to me that I couldn’t remember Agent Norris’ first name. Robert or Richard. It’s a bit understandable given the fact that 98% of the time, I refer to him as “Norris.” I did a quick search of the manuscript and stared at a word on the page in horror. “John.”

Wait a second.

I quickly went to the manuscript for book #1. His name’s not John! It’s Richard! WTF?! Well, maybe I’d only done it once. No… despite an early introduction as Agent Richard Norris, he later introduces himself as John… and then for the remainder of the book, he and another character engage in a conversation where he’s called John the entire time.

[Insert F-bomb here.]

I quickly searched the entire document and fixed every mention in both the ebook and paperback. Luckily, a) no one had purchased a paperback (lucky? hmmm) and b) I had yet to produce paperback versions for myself. Crisis slightly averted. Still, several hundred (~1200) folks now have e-copies with a curious change of character. I’m not so surprised that no one caught it, but I went so far as posting a “request to re-upload” the latest version on the Amazon page. It’d make me feel better.

As a self-published author, you’re inevitably responsible for what you publish. But, in the same sense, you also have the ability to go in and fix what you’ve published at any time. A perk to having control over everything.

In the end, on the scale of mistakes, it could have been much worse. With all the erring I do, there’s now no doubt that I’m human. 😉

How about you? Ever discovered (or worse, had a reader point out) an error in your published work? Share in the comments and thanks for stopping by! 

Author Milestones

As indie authors, we tend to celebrate each milestone, no matter how insignificant it might seem to everyone else. Finishing our first novel. Publishing our first novel. Making our first sale. Making our first sale to a complete stranger. Once you’ve cleared those initial goals, the milestones tend to become a little more personal. Finishing book 2. Reaching X sales. Finishing your first series/trilogy. Some seem more daunting than others. And often, we look at other authors and think, “Jeez! They’re so far ahead of me!” It may be true, but you can only do what you are capable of. And half the trick is to just keep your head down and move forward.

I’ve been self published since 2011. I had one book (Multiples of Six by Andy Rane) for a very long time (June 2011 to December 2013) and even went a solid year where I sold only 36 copies (May of 2012 to May of 2013). Take it from me, having one book out (part of a supposed series no less!) will get you nowhere fast. But, over the years, sales came through various promotions and I crossed the 1000 paid sales mark in June of 2013. When I finally released that book’s sequel last December, I had high hopes of moving more books. Well, it’s been 9 months, a few more releases, and with a little… ok, a lot of help from a BookBub ad, I can say I’ve made some headway.

It’s important to set goals for yourself and celebrate when you reach them. You don’t have to throw a party. Just pat yourself on the back and recognize that you’ve accomplished something, whether it’s a daily writing goal or a yearly sales milestone. Share it among your friends, family, and interested colleagues. It’s not boasting. It’s about sharing the journey. It’s about letting others out there, who might be at the starting line, know that this is a path where even no-name authors (like myself) can find a level of success.

With the help of the recent ad, I crossed the 2750 paid sales mark (over 3 novels and 1 novella and two author names). Yay me! It might be a pittance to some, but I remember when it seemed an unthinkable goal. It’s not. If I can do it, so can you. Am I successful? I haven’t reached that point. The day I can sit back and watch my books sell themselves with little to no marketing necessary, then I’ll consider myself a success. But, I’m certainly pleased with where I now am. I look forward to writing more stories and sharing my continuing journey in this great adventure. I hope you all may find a level of success you can be proud of and celebrate in everything that you do.

Did you reach a milestone lately?! Share it in the comments! 😀

 

Goodreads Giveaway Postmortem

Some of you might remember that I ran a Goodreads giveaway for my new YA fantasy novel. I was using a new tactic that involved a shorter time frame, fewer books, and a broader audience.

Mulraney_PENDRAGON_BOOK1_PrintEdition (1)

The giveaway began on August 27th and ended on September 7th. A total of 1409 people entered to win 1 of 5 books. Yay! Over 650 people added the book to their “to-read” list. Yay! The winners came from around the globe, with a representations from Peru, Romania, Italy, Great Britain, and the US.

So, did it do anything for sales of the book? No. Boo! In fact, since the contest has ended, the number of folks with it on their “to-read” list has dropped slightly. This makes me believe that they only added it because of their potential to win it. Anyway, it doesn’t make me any less enthusiastic about sending out copies to the winners. And, I think I might just run another giveaway soon to try and spur further interest.

Total sales of Danny Dirks thus far? 16. :-/ Good thing I had that BookBub run to lift my spirits. 😉