About Writers, Amazon, book promotion, book sales, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Beating a Dead Horse

The previous post by Atthys Gage, detailing his experience using giveaways to promote book sales, makes it clear that giving away books is not the way to make money. Yet, authors continue to flail that dead horse.

Obviously, the “Top 100 Free in Kindle Store list” promotes Kindle and makes money for Amazon. That may be the ONLY reason Amazon offers it.
Where did we get this idea that free books promote book sales? (The only reason free Browser and free Search works for Google is that they make money off advertisements.)

Rooted deep in the author psyche is the need to be read. Most authors spend considerable portions of their life creating their books and feel rewarded when the book is read. Books are freely given to anyone who purports to fill that need. What’s wrong with this picture? What manufacturer do you know who gives away their products in the hope that they will be used? How many people have you met who are proud to work for free?

We can’t blame today’s publishers for stroking our egos by “choosing” our book to sell. Or blame retailers for accepting the books we freely give them to sell. That’s how they make money.

But we can demand that any publisher with his finger in our pie do the marketing. Otherwise, what the hell have they done to earn their profit? And, we can demand that retailers do more to prevent pirates from selling our books on the retailer’s website.

Writers need a Bill Of Writes.


22 thoughts on “Beating a Dead Horse

  1. mimispeike says:

    Giving your book away can be a strategy. For instance: as a teaser for a series that will be sold.

    Frankly, the ebooks for ninety-nine cents or even a dollar ninety-nine or even two-ninety-nine are tantamount to a give-away.

    The money we make or don’t make (until we catch fire) is not worth agonizing over. Let’s put thought and effort into explaining to readers why they would want to read our book, and sprinkle those mentions around the web. And anywhere. (I have thought about slipping ‘Read Sly’ bookmarks into the books at the library sales.)

    Whether we make money is the least of it. Make your reputation: Make your case. Make a racket. Make a ruckus.

    Make a living? Even a pathetic living? Even the price of a bag of groceries? As Greg Brown says: ‘Dream on, little dreamer, dream on’.

    Liked by 3 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      I checked the BookBub link. BookBub is selective, and they charge authors $45-$3,500 (depending on your genre and what price point you select).

      β€œI now have more books than I can read in a lifetime,” said Suzie Miller of Auburn, WA. She said she has downloaded more than 350 free ebooks using the service [BookBub].

      Liked by 2 people

  2. mimispeike says:

    I’m trying to figure out Pinterest. How do you pin an item to the community board, rather than to your self-created board?

    When you open an item, some have a button ‘Visit’ and some don’t. The visit button takes you to another location where your art can be listed for sale. One guy had a whole gallery of pieces.

    I imagine the button can also send someone directly to your website, or to your listing on Amazon.

    How do you install one of those Visit buttons? The help center is no help. But at least I see what it is possible to do and I will eventually learn the secret to it.

    Yes, Pinterest can be a showroom for your wares. You set up a business account and get charged for it one way or another. Haven’t gotten that far.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. victoracquista says:

    GD, I think you are spot on. I have never gotten a significant boost in sales of a promoted free book or other books that conceivably could be bought by a captivated reader. I do understand the concept of a loss leader and I do think the strategy has some merit for a series (discount the first in the series and make it up on the subsequent books in the series).
    If an author wants to offer his/her work for free, there are many opportunities to do so. Heck, we can even pay money to have our work given away for free. This is the reality of book sales/promotion at the moment. I don’t think it is going to change anytime soon. I wish it were not the case, but wishing is not going to provoke change. In truth, I do not have any credible suggestion that I think will be effective in changing the free giveaways. I am not opposed to a Bill of Rights/Writes, but I do not think it will be effective in combating this “promotional” strategy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Perry Palin says:

    I haven’t done any ebooks, only trade paperbacks.My (small traditional) publisher once told me that if/when we put my books out electronically, I’ll make more money off those than off the print copies. Maybe he has reconsidered; he hasn’t brought it up for a couple of years.

    My paperbacks cost me about $12 each. I’ve sold them to local bricks-and-mortar stores for $15, and to customers for $17-$20.When the publisher sells them directly, my take is about $5 per copy. I don’t give them away. Even my family members buy their copies.

    I gave free copies to a few influencers with connections in my target readership, hoping for a review or recommendation. I can’t attribute any sales to that.

    I frankly haven’t been doing much to market my stories. Meanwhile, I’ve been asked to serve on a writers’ panel at a convention breakout session in February where my target readership will gather. This year the panel members are specifically asked to bring copies to sell at/after the panel presentation.We’ll see how that works.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. mimispeike says:

    I range far and wide but this still falls within the parameters of ‘How to get yourself noticed and read’, which theoretically translates at some point into money.

    I see several book promotions on Pinterest with the headline: If you love So and So, here are eight of her books you should read. These efforts are the work of BookBub.

    Also: remember my idea of handing out promotional material in Times Square dressed in Elizabethan garb? Many lovely outfits from folks on Etsy are pictured on P. Three-four-hundred-up for elite-style costume, all the bells and whistles, a manageable forty-fifty bucks for country-wife rags that a peasant woman might have worn.

    This would also be a good strategy for summer art/craft fairs, handing out flyers, selling a companion paper doll book.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. mimispeike says:

    Ah, yes. As I said, nothing’s easy. I’ve been admitted to the ‘Simple Pin Strategy Group’ on Facebook, and there’s nothing simple about it. There’s a thing called Tailwind. There are Tailwind Tribes. There’s Boardboost. And a strategy called looping your pins. Meta codes attached help get you selected by Pinterest Analytics. Lots and lots I don’t have a clue about.

    Crap! You need to be an IT person to do this.

    Liked by 2 people

      • mimispeike says:

        I might be wrong about this, but my first impression is that the Pinterest algorithms take note of your level of activity, how often you pin or re-pin. Tailwind and Boardbooster and others allow you automate activity, where you pin, how often, how many times a day, etc. I still don’t know how they figure out that your image of a cat is a cat, so as to throw it up when someone types ‘cat’ into a search field.

        I begin to suspect that it’s not visits/views that count for Pinterest, it’s re-pins, growing the bulk of the site. It’s numbers of active users.

        How do they make their money? There’s a business side. They sign up sellers on the basis of number of users and charge on sales/ referrals/etc. All theory at this point. Don’t hold me to it.

        What a pain in the ass this is! I’m doing the investigating so you don’t have to.

        Hold the phone! Here’s some helpful advice from a ‘Simple’ (yeah, right) member:

        “Pinterest is way more sophisticated than that. It looks at a lot of signals including Pin description, board, image file name, even content on the page it links to. It also can recognize images themselves with fairly good accuracy. Give it the right signals and you’ll get more exposure.”

        Liked by 2 people

        • GD Deckard says:

          Thanks for the info, Mimi. Pinterest sounds useful & I recall Book Country admins and members recommending it. That said, of course its algorithms are set to grow its base. Meaning, profit is its purpose. (Not that I knock profit πŸ™‚ )

          Liked by 2 people

  7. mimispeike says:

    I have discovered (via Pinterest) a man in the Netherlands who collects everything Puss-in-Boots: illustrations, figurines, toys, books, every discoverable version of the oft-told tale. I have contacted him to see if he would include my illustration on his site. His website shows hundreds of fascinating items. He may have a good following. He may be a notable in the field of boot-wearing cats, for all I know.

    My advice regarding promotion: climb every mountain, ford every stream, etc., etc.

    On to checking out Instagram. I know nothing about that one either.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. mimispeike says:

    I am reading The Alchemist’s Apprentice by Walter Moers, the MC being a talking cat! Well, it’s a good story, the level of loving nit-pick description is over the moon (all good, in my mind) … but …

    This is a one-step-in-front-of-another plot, the prose style is very fine, but the complexity (of tone, namely, none) suggests YA although the use of (often marvelous word-play) language is far beyond that. There is no inner here, the musings that flesh out a character so prettily.

    My reaction adjusts: I have come across a bit of snark. Things are looking up.

    This story is not aimed at one who has spent thirty years thinking about talking cats and has enormous expectations for them. Others, from the reviews, find this delightful. I find it delightful also, just not as delightful as it could be.

    I like to read about not just events, but about what the critters think of them. I would love the cat say to himself, “Crap! This one is a real nut-cake!” while he looks for a way out of a dire situation. (There is remarkably little dialogue here, a charge that has been leveled at me.)

    Ha! On page seventy-five, Moers starts to talk about the human-cat relationship, in contrast to the human-dog one. That I am certainly into. Things are definitely looking up.

    All in all, it is a terrific tale, something less (for my taste) than fully told. I hope to finish by Wednesday, when Tomcat Murr is supposed to arrive. I expect to adore that one.

    I have read that Murr is a satirical intellectual joke (probably therefore over my head), dealing with Enlightenment theories of education. Which was a hot-button issue at the time. It was first published in 1818.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. mimispeike says:

    Last night my husband and I were listening to the Dubliners on Youtube. A close-up of the lively fingering of a guitar came on the screen. My husband said, “Look at that fingering!” I said, “Yeah, I’m trying to figure out if Sly could manage something of the sort on a bass fiddle.”

    I am a source of amusement for my husband. I hope my obsession entertains here also.

    Liked by 1 person

    • GD Deckard says:

      πŸ™‚ I never fail to read your comments, Mimi πŸ™‚
      I benefit from your insights:
      “This is a one-step-in-front-of-another plot, the prose style is very fine, but the complexity (of tone, namely, none) suggests YA ….”
      I wrote a YA novel, with a one-step-in-front-of-another plot & never realized it until I read your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pinterest = stolen photographs/images with no attribution. I have principles, thus I oppose using Pinterest. As scrapbooks of wedding/birthday/baby shower celebration plans, you might get some ideas for your own celebrations, but sell things? I have my doubts.

    Liked by 1 person

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