Thursday, August 18, 2011

Where are the Rolaids?

When you've put yourself out on a limb, the anxious feeling that arises in your gut can be quite nauseating.

For example:
-Being the first to say, "I love you," in a new relationship not knowing for sure if it will be reciprocated.
-Asking your boss for a raise, and he doesn't reply. He just sits there with a blank expression twirling an overly sharpened #2 between his fingers.
-It's me or the dog!  Suddenly your clothing starts shooting out of the closet as it's ejected in reply to your demand.
-An Indie author listing an ebook on knowing it will be cut apart, chopped up into itty-bitty pieces and launched out of a cannon.

I fall into the last example listed.

Indie authors, or self-published authors, open themselves up for criticism when they list their books on the internet as most haven't had their books professionally edited; myself included.

I put myself out on that limb a few weeks ago when I listed my three ebooks online.  I've worried incessantly about the coming reviews, knowing my books weren't perfect, hoping I'd have thick enough skin to handle the objections to my style of writing.  Needless to say, I've crunched many-a-Rolaids.  The tropical flavors are my favorite.

When the reviews started coming in for A Diamond In My Pocket, my skin thickness was called into question.  The feedback I received initially was that the story was good but the book needed editing.

So, I had it edited.  The book could now be critiqued for its plot and characters, description and fluff; you know, the normal stuff.

The reviews are flowing in:

Amazon 9 reviews, averaging 4 stars:
"I really enjoyed A Diamond in My Pocket. I read it in one sitting without even realizing that time had passed. It is a YA Paranormal, although I think this book will appeal to any age..." Amazon

"I felt myself totally consumed in it, and felt like I was in the book as a character."  Amazon

Smashwords 2 reviews, averaging 5 stars:
"Brilliant, would love to read a sequel...or more." Smashwords

"This one was easy to shuck off reality and fall into the world that the author created." Smashwords

iTunes 62 ratings, averaging 5 stars
"It is very interesting and keeps you turning the pages and wanting more." iTunes

"I really,really enjoyed this book! It was interesting,well written, and had great characters. I would love to read a sequel!" iTunes
What exactly is the hype about?  Here's the book description for A Diamond In My Pocket: 
     When Calli Courtnae breaks the World Record for the 100m, she is invited to Montana to prepare for National tryouts. However, upon arrival using her lip reading ability she realizes she’s been lied to, or at least not told the whole truth. She's a superhuman, a Runner, and her new world includes transporting packages for other supernatural groups.
     She's paired up with an overly anxious Gothic roommate, is continuously glared down by the gorgeous top-dog, Chris, who feels she doesn't belong, and is placed on a delivery team to transport a valuable magical diamond to a clan of terrorists who can kill with their thoughts.
     Chris, the team leader, is given the diamond, but Calli secretly receives the real stone along with a vision of the future and an explanation of why she was hand-selected to carry out the mission. Almost immediately the hidden diamond oozes unprecedented additional powers and abilities into Calli making her more sought after than the diamond itself.
You know, going out on that limb was the riskiest thing I've done but I did it anyway!  I didn't want to let more and more years pass and regret not acting on this.  I hope I can be an inspiration to someone else who's clinging to the tree trunk, worried about going out on that limb; no matter what it is they're afraid of doing.  You never know what you can accomplish until you try!

A Diamond In My Pocket -FREE

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Ebook Exploded

In a 25-hour period, the Amazon book rankings for A Diamond In My Pocket dropped from 161,359 to 471 and I sold over a thousand copies. 

I’ve been writing for a couple of years now and tried to find an agent or publisher for my work to no avail.  So I did what so many Indie authors are doing right now; I launched my ebooks on the world-wide-web.  I dabbled with, and; all of which gave positive feedback for my free ebooks. However, the big turning point for me was when I read John Locke’s book, How I sold one million ebooks in 5 months.  I decided to implement his marketing techniques beginning with changing my free price to $0.99 for each book.  Immediately, the downloads ceased!  Whoa, what happened?

I began building my reputation and seeking out my target audience hoping the overall plan would work.  I kept waiting for to send my books to but it just wasn’t happening fast enough; so I did it myself.  I listed all three for $0.99 and then went back to work building my customer base and writing blogs.  Little by little, single digit sales began to trickle in.  I’d get excited when I’d refresh and see an increase of one download.  It was like Christmas morning!

Then, to my horror, my book was reduced to FREE by Amazon!  I remember feeling gut-shot at the realization that some Amazon cheapskate didn’t want to shell out a buck when other online stores were offering the same book for free.  Clearly, I’d been flagged as ‘cheaper somewhere else’.  I searched the forums and found a posting of several books, including my Diamond book, as newly listed for free.  Well, so much for following in John Locke’s footsteps.  I had so much hope for my books to sell but this setback really took the wind out of my sails.

I refreshed my sales page and my 6 downloads for Diamond jumped to 28.  Oh, great, well maybe they’ll like it and check out my other books in the Scars of Defiance series, I thought to myself.

My Diamond book went free the evening of Aug 8 with an Amazon ranking of 79,563.  The most downloads I’d had on Smashwords was 1,200 in four weeks.  By the following evening I had 3,389 new downloads and ranked #39 in the Top 100 Free Kindle Store!  By 6 o’clock on the 11th I’d reached #19 in the free store with 6,227 free downloads.  I hit the 10,000 downloads mark in the late evening on the 13th, but my rankings were dropping; now I ranked #57 in the Free store.

By this time some reviews were trickling in and they weren’t necessarily good.  The lowest were 3 stars and pointed out multiple grammar and sentence structure issues.  The general consensus was the storyline was good but the typos made it difficult, if not unbearable, to read.  I had my editor work up a revision and uploaded it, but it usually takes 24-hours for it to go ‘live’.

Time was of the essence.  I knew once the other online stores updated my Diamond book to $0.99 Amazon would also.  I definitely wanted the revision to be ‘live’ when that happened, but I was too slow.

At 8:20 pm, on Monday the 15th, I noticed my book was no longer free.  Uh oh.  Now people were actually paying for ‘difficult, if not unbearable, to read’ and, even though it’s only ninety-nine cents, I felt certain the 1 and 2 star reviews were on the way! 

I watched the numbers climb through the night.  My Amazon ranking came in at 10:00pm on the 15th; #161,359.  That’s a far cry from #19 on the free list!  But now I was playing with the big boys and there is a lot more of them than the free crowd.

Aug 16th, at 8:15am, I’d sold 315 downloads in twelve hours.  Cool, but the new version wasn’t ‘live’ yet, so the panic was mounting.  However, my Amazon ranking was now #880 and I was #23 on the Kindle store’s Fantasy Contemporary list.  By 10:00am I was on the Mover’s and Shaker’s list with a rank of #670.  By 10:00pm my ranking had dropped to #471.

Basically, in 25 ½ hours, I dropped from 161,359 to 471 and sold over a thousand copies.

This morning, Aug 17th, I’m on the Most Popular List along with John Locke’s ‘The Love You Crave’.  Who would have thought that?  I mean, really, my book goes free and gets downloaded oodles of times; that’s easy to understand.  But continuing to leap forward after getting the ninety-nine cents price-tag?  I never would have thought that would happen.

It’s been just over eight days and I went from 6 downloads to 13,485; and they keep coming.  I owe my current popularity to my ebook becoming FREE for that short stretch of time; but my future successes will follow John Locke’s strategy.

John Locke, here I come.

August 17th, 2011, on the same page as John Locke: