One of the excitements of ebooks is that rather than having to fathom Amazon's sometimes bizarre rankings system, or trying to get figures out of your publisher (!), you know exactly how many books you sell, every day, every hour, every minute. You can go to your dashboard on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, wherever and see how it's all coming along.
As I am responsible for publishing other authors as well, I have to keep a tight rein on records of sale for the monthly royalty payouts. This has always been an enjoyable exercise because month after month sales figures have been on the rise. Of course this had to fluctuate sooner or later, and in the past couple of months I have seen the first of the 'dips' across the board, especially with US sales.
Thankfully there were reasons. On a couple of days with no US Amazon sales at all (major panic) it turned out there had been a technical glitch at Amazon HQ. General elections and natural disasters also took their toll (and put things into perspective). It certainly did no harm in keeping me on my toes. As the curve curls gently up again, a few panic-induced initiatives look like they are paying off.
To promote the fourth Susie Kelly book coming out on December 3rd, we put together an anthology of extracts from her previous three books, and took a chapter from her new one, to make up a short compilation of some of her favourite places in France. A country she's lived in for many years and travelled from one side to the other, up and down, every which way on foot, in an old van and by bike. The new book, Swallows & Robins - The Guests In My Garden, is uncharacteristically about staying at home as she renovates and rents a pair of gites in her garden. We had this Swallows cover drawn for us by Elle Ford, a hugely talented student who's been working with Blackbird since the summer. After giving the ebook away free to our Newsletter readers, FB and Twitter followers for a week, we put it on Kindle at the lowest price allowed, 77p/99cents. The Magic Of France is scheduled for a KDP Select freebie offer over Christmas, but is already turning into a little bit of a hit on its own, featuring in US Amazon's Hot New releases and popping our Japan sales cherry!
2. Re-title, Re-cover
My own novels haven't been doing that well lately. I had become increasingly unhappy with the Ten Good Reasons To Lie About Your Age title. A title grafted on after the novel was finished to get acceptance by an agent. I changed the title to a Tracy Emin quote, The Beginning of Dying, and asked my cover designer (Fena Lee, Singapore-based student, see her work here) to go dark rather than bright and bouncy. I loved what she did, but this sent the sales figures down to ZERO! Black covers and titles about dying were not a good idea. So I changed it all back again to Ten Good Reasons.
Still not comfortable, I don't have any problem about age, and more importantly, neither does my character, I kind of forgot about it all. There is so much to do with other books coming along, to be written, to be published, I left it alone. But this latest panic got me thinking again, not consciously, and The Born Again Virgin title surfaced. Fortunately, because the cover is midnight blue it was no problem to scribble out the title words on Photoshop and have another go without bothering the cover designer. NOW I'm happy, and sales, especially in the UK, are finally moving again. Then it was pointed out to me that my OTHER novel had a completely unsuitable cover. Sometimes something can be staring you in the face and you don't see it. My friend had been a little hesitant to say anything, but I'm so glad she did. I went from a sex & dating pregnant lady (ewch - the clash was a result of another retitle from guide to Mum & Baby Groups - limited audience - To The Single Mother's Survival Guide To Sex & Dating). To a more suitable cover.
3. Apply To Awesome Indies
I heard about Awesome Indies in a Facebook forum when Authors Electric's Kathleen Jones posted about the acceptance of her book The Sun's Companion. Now The Born Again Virgin has just been accepted too - see left hand banner! Thank you Kathleen and to Tahlia at Awesome Indies. And talking of covers, how about this. Surely a contender for indie cover of the year. Is there such a thing?
4. Taking Another Roll of The KDP Select Dice
I have pulled everything from KDP Select and returned to multiple platforms via Smashwords and Kobo. But, with the KDP Select lending pot doubled for December and the huge Kindle Fire Christmas marketing campaign in the UK, especially via Waterstones, we've decided to put our new Susie Kelly title and my new novel title in to KDP Select for 3 months before rolling them out.Time will tell...