Sunday, December 30, 2012

Smashwords status/results so far

So, I've posted 5 titles to Smashwords since December 21. 3 titles are posted for free. 2 are posted for sale at low prices.This blog post shows my strategies and my reassessment of strategies, looking at these "books" as my entry into the world of publishing. I am not looking to make a killing (heck, I'll be lucky to get a return on investment!). Instead, I am looking to build a following. "Slow and steady wins the race."

Of the 3 free titles, I measure success by number of downloads, number of libraries the work has been saved to, # of "Likes", and reviews.

"How I Saved Humankind" has been downloaded 94 times and saved in 7 libraries. It has received 2 5-star reviews, and has been "Liked" 3 times. I call that a success! :D

"In the End: Apocalyptic Poetry" has been downloaded 25 times but saved in 0 libraries. It has received no reviews, and has only been "Liked" once. Ah well. It is poetry, after all. And most people who like poetry are looking for inspiration or love poetry. It takes a unique character to look for dark, spec poetry. These results do not disappoint me. In fact.... This is the first title that has been "approved" for Smashwords Premium Catalog, which means it will be distributed to all major e-book retailers, including Barnes and Noble, the Apple store, the Sony store, etc. Amazon is not included. I won't post it to Amazon either, because it's free--I can't seem to find a way to post freebies at Amazon.

"Pardon Me" is my biggest success, when measuring downloads and libraries. This little love story about the love that couldn't be has been downloaded 238 times and saved in 22 libraries! It has zero "Likes" (I suppose if people are downloading and saving into libraries for easier finding later on, they don't feel the need to "Like" it also.) This story has received 1 5-star review.

Now, the 2 titles for sale....  Action is not nearly as intense on these, for the simple reason that people must make an investment in them, even if it is a small investment, and I haven't earned their trust yet. I'd rather not post numbers sold...if only to protect my ego! lol!

"A Throne's Stowaway" was viewed 80 times on its first day of posting, and to date has been "Liked" 15 times. There are no reviews. The next highest number of views per day occurred on Friday, when it got 20 hits...I credit that to my posting messages about it here and on Twitter. There were no hits at all yesterday, and none so far today. These figures tell me I have to advertise frequently or post new stories frequently to get new readers.

"Mozart" was viewed 50 times the first day, 20 times the second, and 10 times the third. It has been "Liked" 3 times. There are no reviews.

Now for future strategic decisions:

I could stop offering "How I Saved Humankind" for free...charge the lowest possible price of $0.99. This story has proven it's worth. However, I have read many "how to promote sales" articles and blogs, and the overall recommendation is to offer some things for free to build a following that will ultimately buy other stories.

I could stop offering one or both titles for sale, and switch them to "free" but that can send a bad message. People who have made the purchase could feel used or betrayed (for lack of better words this morning). Others could think it means I don't think highly enough of the work to keep offering it for sale. If my entire library is "free", that can send a message to readers that I am a true amateur.

So...I think I'll keep status quo as it is for now. No changes with regard to free offers vs. for sale.

As to pricing....When I tried to determine how to set pricing, what I saw was "all over the map." One recommendation said that a reader survey suggested pricing over $2.99 represented better perceived value. Some readers wouldn't even consider buying something from an untested author for less. However, I could not in good conscience offer the novella "A Throne's Stowaway" for that price, because many novel length works start there and go up. Of course, other novel length works are offered for $0.99. Charles de Lint is offering all of his out of print titles at Smashwords for $'s hard to compete when a recognized author sells so low and a green author tries to get more. But, again, I have to reflect a higher perceived value, so I can't under-price my works either. 

Pricing is sort of like a crap-shoot. But I'll stick with my strategy for now: Short stories at the lowest price possible, $0.99. Novellas for $1.99. Novels starting at $2.99, but variable depending on length.

These figures also show me that romance/love stories really do sell.

And vampire fans can be pretty intense. One purchaser of the vampire story, Mozart, bought 5 copies right away. This shows me the person was eager to share it with others even before she had read it herself. and vampires must be on my docket for future projects. My eventually forthcoming novel about the Murray-Harker Institute will include both aspects. (Don't worry, I'm not picking it back up until I'm finished with Prophecy's Drum!!) I have another Murray-Harker Inst. story to dust off in the interim--that one will be either a short story or a novella, depending on where I take it which will determine how long it becomes.

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