As promised, I have been spending more of my “Sam time” trying to figure out how to improve sales of the current books, with writing of the new book a more relaxed affair this time round. Over the weekend I read hundreds of pages of information on the marketing in particular of e-books, and there is much support for the idea of giving books away. Free, gratis and for nothing, as my father used to say. “Permafree” is the current term for it. The thinking is that people have too much choice when it comes to books – millions of them out there. So you tempt them to try yours by giving it to them, which removes the “shall I risk my money on an author I don’t know?” dilemma for them. They read your book and – so goes the theory – are so enamoured of your work that they rush to slap down hard currency for all your other books.
I can see the logic, I really can: it’s like the free samples given out in supermarkets and at railway stations. But “Fatal Forgery” (it makes most sense to give away the first in the series) would be quite the free gift: all those years of work and all those words, just for nothing. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that – plus I would feel bad for all the people (219 at the last count) who paid good money for their “FF” e-books and could have got it for nothing had they only waited. And do people value something they are given for nothing?
However, my weekend has not resulted simply in yet more dithering. During my reading I discovered that I have let myself fall behind the times. Apart from publishing direct to Kindle, I rely on a service called Smashwords to distribute my e-books through various other channels, such as iBooks (part of iTunes), Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Scribd and so on. You format your text in as clean a way as you can, and Smashwords converts it to these various formats (hah! I say that so glibly, but I remember that it took days of painstaking formatting), gets it into the various catalogues, and then takes a percentage of the sales. Last year I made ten sales through Smashwords. And now I discover that there is a new competitor on the block: Draft2Digital. Their website is considerably more user-friendly, and the conversion for the channels they use – similar to the Smashwords offering – is much more straightforward (cleverer software behind the scenes, I guess). So I have signed up, and so far have published two titles with them. (I am doing only e-books with them, but they also offer print-on-demand paperbacks, which I currently do with CreateSpace. In my next marketing session, I might compare the two.) So as not to cause confusion, I have delisted on Smashwords from the channels offered by Draft2Digital, and kept all of the channels that are unique, if that makes sense – so that my titles are offered through the maximum number of channels. As I always say, I’ll keep you posted.