Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Writing Books Is Easy. Selling Books Is Hard!

Everyone seems to have one "good" book in them so we have all these "good" books flooding onto Amazon.  Panic!  How will our books be found?

A word was invented.  Discoverability!  So freebie giveaways of books, jewelry, kindles and tablets and book tours and begging for reviews arose.  Did they work?  Everything works for someone.  The issue is that they don't work across the board for everyone.

What to do?  What to do?  The common wisdom will tell you you have to have a book launch and a huge mailing list and a large following on Facebook and you have to Tweet a whole lot.  Then you get Bookbub to send out a huge blast and you give away 80,000 copies and hope for sales.  As I said, it works for some.

We need to know what works for most.

I became friends with someone in my category, equestrian sports, who writes for a slightly younger audience.  We talked a lot.  Maggie LOVES the telephone!  I watched what she does and it all started to make sense to me.

Here's the main rule--in my universe.  Feel free to ignore it.
1) Write what people want to read.
2) Publish.
3) Rinse and repeat.

This month I published Book 3 in my series.  Last weekend this is what the bestseller category looked like

I wrote the books and published them.  They all cost $2.99.  There will be no freebies or discounts.  I have 2 people on my mailing list who I notified.  I posted a notice on the Bittersweet Farm Facebook page, and a notice on my blog.  I don't have a big following.  I put a notice on my other pages at Amazon that this one would be released on Aug. 3.  That's it.

Today this is where Wingspread is:

Amazon's search engine is probably the best in the world.  People will find you.  Choose your categories and keywords wisely.  If you have a good blurb, a good cover, and a good sample, you've probably made a sale.  You don't have to do anything else.  

You're screaming "Smartypants.  Write what people want to read, how do you know?"

What do you want in a book?  Something that tells a good story, that isn't like everything else, that treats the audience with respect, that is well thought out, well conceived from beginning to end.  That doesn't mean just the writing, it means everything.

My pal Maggie Dana, the author of Timber Ridge Riders, also a book designer and she generously offered to format Bittersweet 1 for paper publication.  We have gone through the manuscript with the fine tooth comb.  We discussed an equestrian term cross ties.  Is is cross-ties, cross ties or crossties.  We looked at each comma, each curly quote, we researched whether the titles of plays should be italicized.  The ebook is perfect, the paper version will be perfect and to the same standards Maggie would turn in when she works for St. Martins.

You probably have a sense of who your audience is.  Maybe you've gotten a note from a reader.  Maybe you had a review tell you something.

Here's a review that told me something important:

5.0 out of 5 stars Barbara Morgenroth is a great writer., June 20, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Bittersweet Farm 2: Joyful Spirit (Kindle Edition)
Absolutely loved it, a great read! Even at the age of 61, I am still as horsemad as ever. Brilliant.

Wait!  This woman is 61.  The books are for Young Adults!  What's happening???
What's happening is that Amazon makes it possible for readers to find what they want to read.  It's not about age groups anymore.  It's about high quality storytelling presented as well as you possibly can.

Do that and people will find you.  They didn't find me with book 1, I wrote book 2 and I started to get found.  Book 3 changed everything.  There is no better publicity than being #1.  There is no better way to be found than to simply publish at Amazon.

If you've written what people want to read you will sell books.

P.S.  Maggie proofread this for me and made changes ;-)



Sandy Cody said...

Love it! Solid, common sense advice, but something we writers have to have spelled out for us ... again and again.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

What did they say in that baseball movie with Kevin Costner--"Build it and they will come." We can apply that to same analogy to our writing. "Write it and they will find our books." Even if it does bring the snarks out of the woodwork. For every one snark, there are two faithful readers. I hope.

Sofie Couch said...

Fabulous! I love the clarity of your posts and this one just hits the nail on the head. Thanks for sharing your bookselling advice!