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Tag Archives: One Night in Bridgeport

What Have I Learned in 18 Months of Self-Publishing

There’s a word I hate to use, but there are times when it is necessary to convey the depth of my feeling.  What have I learned from 18 months of self-publishing?  Fucking nothing.  And I’m fucking tired of trying to figure it out.

Back in the glory days, as in January 2013, I offered One Night in Bridgeport for free for Kindle readers for two days.  Those glorious 48 hours resulted in over 6,000 people downloading the book.  I still marvel at that number.  6,000 people were reading my book.  6,000 people were reading my book for free.  What if I had priced it at .99?  Would they still have downloaded it?  If they had, I would have made $2,000 and still had 6,000 readers.  Better yet, as soon as the free promotion ended, almost 400 people purchased it or borrowed it in the weeks that followed.  Those few weeks were my most profitable as a writer.

I did that free download without promotion, without seeking out websites to promote my free offer.  I put it out there for free and people snapped it up and sales followed.  As I’ve written, since then well over 1,000 people have downloaded the book at the .99 price.  I have over 1,500 readers of Bridgeport (actually adding the free downloaders, I have almost 8,000) and that feels damn good.  Those readers have now produced 41 reviews.  The last ten reviews, spread out over the last two months, have all been four or five star reviews from people I don’t know.  That is huge to me.  People who don’t me from Adam are liking what they read.  Here’s the last one, posted to Amazon today:

A Legal thriller with stay up all night intrigue. Real life like situation.  I hope Mark does more like this one.

While the reviewer is on a first name basis with me, I have absolutely no idea who he is.  He gave me five stars.  I love that.

After my failed experiment moving the book back up to $2.99 (which netted me a couple of sales and then nothing), then down to $1.99 (which netted me a couple of sales and then nothing),, I’ve moved Bridgeport back to .99.  First 24 hours at that price again — four sales (let me change that — as I wrote this, another purchase — so that’s five).  I think I’m not budging from .99 again on that novel.

So, I publish my second novel — Weed Therapy.  A couple of dozen people buy the paperback ($9.95) or the Kindle download ($2.99).  I run something at askDavid.com.  I feature it on GoodKindles.net.  I join a Facebook page for Authors and Readers and post about it there.  I do a Goodreads giveaway.  Sales fall … absolutely flat.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  So, unlike with Bridgeport, where I waited six months, I decided to push things.

I offered Weed Therapy as a free download for Kindle readers.  For two days (just like with Bridgeport).  Did I expect another 6,000+ downloads?  No, although it would have been nice.  But, I did expect something more than … drum roll … are you ready for this … 88.  Yes, two days later, 88 people downloaded it for free.  Compare those two numbers.  6,000+ versus 88.  Let me add something to the calculation.  Back in January, like I said, I did the free download for Bridgeport with no promotional efforts.  I didn’t have anywhere near as many followers of this blog liking the post about the free download, a handful of whom reblogged it to their own blog.  I hadn’t already featured the book on a number of different websites or FB.  I just threw it out there for free for a couple of days to see what happened.

With Weed Therapy, I posted about it here — my legions of followers did their thing and helped spread the word.  And … 88 people downloaded it for free.

I’m fucking baffled.  Is it the time of the year (there are people who believe the summer is horrible for the book business — I’m not sold on that)?  Is it the genre — everybody will read a legal thriller now and then, but how many people actually want to read something categorized as literary fiction?  I don’t think either of those explanations make sense with such a huge drop off.  Or maybe they do in combination — the time of the year added to the less appealing genre combined to produce a collective yawn from the reading masses.  But still?  6,000 down to 88?  The thing is, going back to the title of this post, I have no fucking idea and I’m monumentally frustrated at not being able to figure this out.

By education and profession, I’m an attorney.  While most people may believe that the law is a black and white world, the reality is that the law is filled with shades of gray.  But, even if it is a gray world, there is some logic and common sense that can be applied to guide analysis and reach conclusions.  The law is frequently like a jigsaw puzzle — but one where you know you’re dealing with a 250-piece, 500-piece, or 1,000 piece puzzle.  And all of those pieces are on the table for you to put together.  You just need to know how they fit together.

This publishing business feels to me, at the moment, like a 1,000 piece puzzle where more than half of the pieces aren’t even on the table.  How do you put a puzzle together when you don’t have all the pieces?

I know this.

1.  Weed Therapy is dropping to .99 tomorrow.  I’ve given up on the idea that people are willing to pay $2.99 for an e-book by somebody not a part of the traditional publishing system.  And that sucks.  Big time.

2.  I’m going to be flooding the e-book world with volume.  I still have a commitment to quality, but I’m going to be pushing long short stories, novellas, and novels out there.  As many as I possibly can.  I’ll rotate them through free, .99, 2.99 and all points in between.  And see what happens.  I’m going to do everything I can to figure out how to crack the code.  Because there has to be a code.  There has to be a way to get all 1,000 pieces of the puzzle on the table so I can put it together.  There has to be.

3.  If you follow this blog and you downloaded Weed Therapy and it had any value or quality for you, post a review on Amazon.  I want to get 10 reviews on it with an average rating of at least 4.0 so I can see if ereadernewstoday will feature it.  Can you do that for me?  To be clear, if you don’t believe it’s worth four or five stars, I’m not asking you to be dishonest.  But, if you think it’s worth that, post the review.  Get me further along this path.

 

 

 

 

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Learning A Lesson

It’s been a great ride since May 17 when ereadernewstoday featured One Night in Bridgeport.  As I’ve written before, over 1,000 people have downloaded the book since then.  Cost to them: .99 per download.  I make 35% of that.  So, on the plus side, with all sales, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 people have purchased Bridgeport and I’ve made over $1,000.  While the frequency of reviews has diminished, the few that are dribbling in are all excellent.  The latest, posted today, is this:

This was an awesome book. It clearly shows what can go wrong by making one little mistake. You had to feel sorry for the protagonist and you had to guess how it would end. Thoroughly enjoyable.

The last four reviews are all five stars, all from people I’ve never met.  They read my book and loved it.  That’s all good.

I keep waiting for sales to drop off and they don’t.  Every day anywhere from 5-35 people download it for the Kindle.  In the first three days of August, 21 people downloaded the book.  Twelve on August 3.

For weeks now, I’ve had a plan.  Fix the typos, add a few things about Weed Therapy to the inside material (favorable reviews, for instance), and re-publish Bridgeport for the Kindle, with a republished paperback to follow.  The paperback would also include an improved back cover.  When I did this, I planned on increasing the e-price of Bridgeport back to $2.99 to see what would happen.  So, I did that last night, at the end of a day when twelve people had bought the book for .99.

And today rolls along.  Nobody is buying it.  Nobody.   A book with 36 reviews on Amazon and an average rating of 4.5.  That readers think is “awesome.”

Meanwhile, Weed Therapy is out there also.  Priced at $2.99.  So far, ten people have downloaded it at that price.  I’m pretty sure I know just about every one of those ten people.  I ran a Goodreads Giveaway.  648 people signed up for it.  About half of those individuals added the book to their “to-read” list.  I spent a day on the front page of GoodKindles.  I’m still on the front page, just a little further down.  There was one e-book purchase after the giveaway and nothing in the 24 hours since the book showed up on GoodKindles.

This is frustrating, but I’m trying to be patient.  I believe I’ve put two novels out there that are worth $2.99.  I try very hard not to write garbage and expect people to buy it.  Both of these novels took me a couple of years to write. Bridgeport went through one major rewrite and two major edits.  Weed Therapy, I believe is something worth reading.   I don’t think it is asking too much for readers to pay less than they would for a latte when they’re willing to pay so much more for traditionally published authors.  What does it take to get people to pay $2.99 for an e-book?  Why should they if all the other self-published authors are pricing at .99 and free?  I would really like to keep the price of my books at $2.99, but if nobody is going to buy them at that price, what’s the point?

Odds and Ends

One Night in Bridgeport Update:  At .99, I sold over 600 downloads in May, 100 in June, and 250 in July.  I’m updating the cover and correcting the typos for both paperback and the Kindle.  Once I do that, I’m moving the price back up to $2.99 for awhile.  We’ll see what happens.

* * *

I’m off work for two and a half weeks.  Between my solo trip to Fort Bragg the last six days and a family trip down to Long Beach starting on Friday, I have a couple of days.  There was a work meeting today I thought I should go to.  I went to work as a result.  Bad decision.  Completely ruined the vacation vibe.

* * *

One of my new favorite songs courtesy of Spotify.  This is one of those songs that fills all of the requirements:  mood, voice, simple musical sound, lyrics. meaning.  But, go back to the voice.  Awesome.

* * *

Weed Therapy is back.  Be very, very quiet.

A Sunday Ramble

Yes, a couple of weeks ago, I announced my temporary retirement from blogging.  It lasted about a week.  What has lasted longer is that I am not spreading my rambling wisdom each and every day with you, my faithful readers.  I’m a little bit more sporadic around here, which is a good thing.  For me and for you.

I was reminded today of why I started blogging.  Ionia Martin (one of my new favorite bloggers) asked bloggers whether their blogs ended up where they wanted them to.  My response to her as it is whenever I ponder this question is an emphatic “Yes.”  Why?  Because, contrary to the advice of the “experts,” I wasn’t interested in a focused blog.  Just Food.  Or Photography.  Or Politics.  Or Fiction.  The name of the blog says it all.  This is the place where I ramble.  And if people want to come along for the tips inside my head, the more the merrier.  So, without further ado … here’s a ramble for you.

This little guy …

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… is my youngest’s leopard gecko.  He’s had it for a couple of years.  I say “guy” rather uncomfortably.  You see geckos don’t have clearly visible indicators of their sex.  When he got this gecko, he was told it was a boy.  Hence, he was named Pele (yes, after the soccer player).  Later, when it was time to get a second gecko, because you can never stop at one, he had its sex checked again.  Why?  Because of you put two male geckos in the same tank, they’ll fight.  So, the second sex check and Pele is a female.  Gecko number 2 is a male.  Named Shaniqua.  Why?  I have no clue.

Anyway, they’ve lived in relative peace and harmony until recently.  A few weeks ago, my son discovered what appeared to be gecko eggs.  But they were dried and shriveled and clearly were not going to result in gecko babies running amuck in the castle.  Can you imagine, screaming gecko babies waking us at all hours of the night?

Well, apparently, geckos, when they get busy, stay busy.  Two more eggs showed up last week.  This time we found them before they were completely gone.  Here’s the puzzling thing.  The pet store “expert” told us that the eggs needed to be kept warm and moist.  Got it.  Wait.  How does that make sense?  How have geckos managed to avoid extinction?  Don’t geckos live and thrive in dry climates.  You know, like deserts.  How do their eggs stay moist when they’re out in the wild?  No problem.  We sprayed the eggs.  Sprayed the eggs.  Sprayed the eggs.  They dried up and they’re gone.  Rumor has it the next major purhcase will be an incubator for the next round of gecko eggs.  !!!!

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A couple of weeks ago, an acquaintance who lives in Illinois told me about a place in Chicago that makes … pizza pot pies.  Meaning, I was going to have to try to make pizza pot pies myself.  Here’s the recipe for the pies made by the Chicago restaurant my friend had heard about.  Here’s what my oven looked like a couple of hours ago.

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And, here’s what the end product looked like.

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It most definitely did not come out the way pictures of pizza pot pie suggest it should.  Part of the problem is that the dishes I cooked it in were deeper than the recipe suggested.  As a result, instead of the dough being on top and then draping over the edge on the outside, the crust was entirely in the dish.  Meaning their was no crust lip forming a bowl for the toppings after I turned them over.  Another problem was that I didn’t know how thick to make the dough.  It ended up being too thick.  But, it was definitely an easier way to make several “pizzas” at once instead of my usual — one at a time.

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I have had the good fortune of having a blitzkrieg kind of reading experience the last couple of days.  First up was And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.  As with his first two novels, this is an emotional, gut-wrenching tale that keeps you moving through the pages.  Of his three novels, however, I liked it the least.  I think he’s losing his touch.  I felt like he was forcing the story in the last third or so.  Still a great read though.

Once I was done with that, I started reading Catskinner’s Book by fellow blogger and self-published author, Misha Burnett.  If I hadn’t been busy with other things yesterday, this would have very easily been a book I didn’t put down until I was finished.  It’s not my genre of choice.  It’s a futuristic, sci-fi thriller, which means suspending some amount of disbelief — not an easy thing for me to do these days when I read.  But, he had me from page one and I didn’t want to stop reading.  Well done, Mr. Burnett.  I hope there’s more to come.

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Speaking about books.  I will continue to be befuddled by the when and how and who of One Night in Bridgeport sales.  At the end of this week, I had a day or two where I only got one or two Kindle downloads.  Then, suddenly, it started flying off the e-shelf.  As I write this at 7:30 in the evening, 36 copies were purchased today.  Pushing me to about #5,500 in the Kindle Store and #53 in Legal Thrillers.  It is easily the most I’ve sold in one day without any promotional effort that instigated it.  A mystery.  A conundrum.  A riddle I wish I could crack because if I could than I’d know if there’s a way to target whatever it is that led to today’s outcome.

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I had the good fortune to spend a night and day in the little town of Volcano.  Located about 50 miles east of Sacramento, it’s one of those foothill towns that had thousands of residents during the Gold Rush days.  According to the local Volcano lore, when the first vote was cast to select California’s capitol city, Volcano was on the ballot and came in second, behind Vallejo.  (For those who don’t know, Vallejo didn’t last long, eventually being replaced by Sacramento.)  Way back when, it had 5,000 residents.  Now, it has just over 100.  It’s a street with a stop sign.  A few houses.  A little park not much bigger than my back yard.  But it has a hotel and a bed and breakfast, The Union Inn, which also has a restaurant.  The restaurant serves pub fare of a much higher quality than most pubs.  I had gazpacho, chile rellenos (better than any I’ve ever had in a Mexican restaurant), and creme brulee for dessert.

We got there about 3:30 yesterday.  There isn’t much to do in Volcano.  So I sat on the porch of the B & B with a beer.  Or two.  I had my Kindle, reading Mr. Burnett’s great book.  And doing what doesn’t come naturally for me.  Saying hello and talking to whoever walked in or out.  I met, as a result, two women and their two adopted children.  I marvel at how far we have progressed in the last few years when it comes to tolerance for homosexual couples and families.  At one point, I chatted with a woman, originally from Sweden, but who has been in this country since the 1970’s — she was looking for the route to Fiddletown, where she had heard there was an old Chinese apothecary with a history.  We spoke for 5-10 minutes.

These are the types of conversations I so rarely have.  Strangers.  Connecting on odd bits of trivia or similar interests.

After dinner, the Queen Midget and I adjourned to the Volcano Theatre Company.  Once again, according to Volcano lore, Volcano had the first independent theater company in California.  This descendant of that endeavor put on a play Boeing Boeing, a romantic comedy.  It was in an outdoor ampitheater.  A couple hundred people enjoyed the performance, marred only by one of the leads inability to remember his lines.  😉  Either he had a drink or two or three before the performance, or he was just completely off.

Volcano is the type of place I’d like to spend more time in.  Sitting on the porch of the Union Inn.  People in these little towns always seem so friendly and open.  The lives people live there seem so much more real.  Enjoying a little play in a little ampitheater instead of watching a movie in a multiplex.  It’s basic and real life.  If you have a chance, stop in, have a pleasant meal at the Union Inn.  Catch a play.  There’s music in the ampitheater every now and then, too.  And a chili contest in September.  I’m thinking I need to get back there for that.

I’m A Review Whore

Yes, I admit it.  But aren’t we all?  All of us self-published authors, living and dying by what those unknown readers are thinking and saying about our books once they have them in their hot little hands.

This week has seen a new review on Amazon, and a new rating on Goodreads.  The review on Amazon is interesting.

Formerly a practicing attorney, I was delighted with how the author “transcribed” the trial. I almost didn’t read that far. The first four chapters needed considerable condensing. At first I thought I had mistakenly bought a contemporary romance novel, so I quickly skimmed those chapters until I bumped into him being interviewed by the investigators. From chapter 5 until the end I was captured.

However… I thought I’d upchuck if I read more about the snow in branches, etc. I, too, find falling snow to be beautiful, but its relevance was questionable. It did not add conflict or tension to the story. A little abridging would have been nice.

The resolution of the criminal trial was an excellent twist. A few things at the end were left unresolved and left to the reader’s imagination.

Based on that, the reader gave me five stars.  Which I’ll definitely take.  I also find it difficult to disagree with the concerns about the first couple of chapters.  What thrills me about this is her appreciation for how I wrote the trial.  I’ll let you in on a secret.  While my day job is being an attorney.  I don’t litigate and I have spent my life as far removed from criminal law as possible.  If I never step in a courtroom, I’ll be happy.   So, I was worried about the courtroom action in Bridgeport and some of the other details of the criminal process.  Having somebody more familiar with those aspects “endorsing” how I wrote that part of the story provides me with some comfort.  So, thanks reviewer.  Glad you got past those first few chapters.

As for Goodreads — the site is beginning to frustrate me.  I wonder if other authors have the same dilemma.  It shows the number of ratings and the number of reviews for the book.  Unlike with Amazon, Goodreads allows readers to just provide a rating on a five star scale.  Readers do not need to post a review of the book.  For a week now, it has shown Bridgeport having 15 ratings and six reviews.  But when I scroll through the Goodreads members who have the book in their library, I have found it impossible to find all of those ratings.  I did, however, find a new one this morning — posted on July 1.  Four stars.  Again, I’ll take it.  I just wish Goodreads had a bettter way of updating and tracking these things for the authors.

Time to get back to the writing.  I have unlocked the secret to Chapter 4 of The Irrepairable Past and am making progress there as well as with Chapter 6.

 

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