Last week I attended Sleuthfest 2014 in Orlando, Florida. For four days I was surrounded by writers and bombarded with ideas. Friday and Saturday there were four tracks offered each hour providing information and ideas ranging from basic writing tips to how to keep up with the changes in publishing. (As if that were possible.)
I primarily focused on the sessions dealing with current trends in publishing (traditional, self-publishing, or hybred) as well as how to get one’s book discovered and purchased. I was even put on a panel titled “Price Pulsing” which I knew nothing about, but as a result of being on the panel (and with the help of several MMRWA members) now do know how it works. (Or doesn’t work.) Only eight people showed up to listen to us talk about Price Pulsing. That’s the fun of being opposite an Agents Roundtable.
One theme (if that’s the right word) I heard in these sessions was don’t put all your eggs (books) in one basket (Amazon or traditional publishing). The more places your book is available the better. Some writers who have published with the Big Five have now chosen to self-publish, or to go back and forth between the two methods. (They’re the hybreds.) Also, there was talk that Amazon’s wonderful royalty splits may be changing and (naturally) not to the author’s advantage. Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, IngramSparks (https://www1.ingramspark.com/) were all mentioned as ways, in addition to Amazon, to make your ebook available. Most of the panelist didn’t like Amazon’s Select program. Too limiting, in their opinion.
I also attended a session on audio books. Terry ODell, along with Neil Plakcy, gave a great talk about Amazon’s audio book program, ACS. I remember when I worked at Kellogg Community College, back in the early 1990s, and a blind student asked me if any of my books were in audio, that he’d like to “read” one. Back then I laughed at the idea of any of my romances being put into an audio format; nowadays, it’s not only possible, it’s something I’m thinking about.
The panel on “Cracking Discoverability” brought home one point. Presence is important. The more books a writer has available, the better the chance of being discovered. Reviews are important, and many writers will offer a book at a reduced price for a review. One survey, however, found that books that are offered free may be downloaded many times, but only a small percentage are ever read and rarely do the readers write reviews. At a price range of .99 – 1.99 more of the books that are downloaded are actually read and the readers are more apt to write a review. Offering a book for 2.99 on up brought fewer downloads, but the buyers tended to read the books, were more active in book clubs, and gave reviews.
Other ways to be “discovered” included signature lines, being active on social media (FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc), blogs, holding contests, creating a mailing list, putting out an e-newsletter, and creating a brand that is consistent (especially if you write in more than one genre). The warning for all, especially after some members of the audience asked how we were to do all this and write books, was to select what we felt comfortable doing and forget the rest.
Good advice, but it sure would be nice to find that perfect combination that not only increased my discoverability but also my bank account.
Reed Farrel Coleman being
attacked by Deni Dietz View out of hotel room window