Thursday, August 23, 2012

Let’s Do the Math

I keep seeing blogs on how great it is to give away your books on KDP Select and the fantastic returns some people have had. Joe Konrath handed his blog over to his friend, Melinda DuChamp, who posted about the success she had had with KDP Select. You should definitely read her post, which will give you the upside of book giveaways.

I’ve had failures and successes with the KDP Select free promos, nothing like Melinda describes on the success side however, but enough to make me happy for a couple of months.

I’m not knocking anyone for working this angle. As I said, I have too. I’ve had family members ask me how it could possibly work?  My answer has been “I don’t know, but it does.” Done correctly, you can see a really big bump in your sales after a free promo. But it’s been bugging me lately and here’s why: There is just something fundamentally wrong with a business plan that requires you to giveaway thousands of your books to gain sales in the range from say 5-20% of the giveaways.

Is this just the point of view of someone who spent too many years in Corporate America? Possibly. But there’s another rub. The longer this trend stays in place the longer it’s going to take for a market for actual ebook SALES to return.

Here are my calculations (feel free to adjust or pull them apart to your heart’s content): It’s been said that there are 700,000 Indie authors out there. I’d argue that there are more, but I don’t have any evidence to prove that, so let’s go with that number. If the average ebook price is $2.99 then in order for those 700,000 authors to average $200 a month in profits there would have to be 209,300,000 ebooks sold.

That’s 700,000 times approximately $2 per book times 100 books sold per month = 209,300,000.  This translates into about $625,000,000  at our average $2.99 per book. According to David Derrico's website, in February of this year (before KDP Select even kicked in), ebook sales in dollars was $114,900,000 – way, way less than it would take to have an ebook market that would affect authors in a significant way.  In fact, with that kind of money, only about 128,000 authors would take home $200 a month (on average).

Yes, this spread of the cash across all 700,000 authors is utopian and very unreasonable.  There are those that will make little or nothing each month (as was always the case) and those that will make bucket loads of money.  I understand this. However, it’s also important to understand that some percentage of the freebies are cutting into real sales and we, as a group, can hardly afford that. Remember that $114 million was BEFORE we started giving away our books.

I think it’s going to take a very long time to get ourselves back to the point where ebooks are a paying proposition for even a small percentage of authors, and the longer we partake of the fountain of freebies, the further away that day gets.

This is just my considered opinion. Please – anyone – blow away my numbers. Tell me that I’m wrong. I’d love that.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Expanding the Dream

When big things happen in our lives, we tend to reassess and evaluate where we are. For me, I realized this past month that something had to change.

I’ve been planning on my self-published books supporting me into my old age. That goal may require a little honing – in fact, it definitely will. My books have not taken off according to plan. I happen to know there are a lot of Indie authors in the same boat.  So, since the gazillion dollars are not going to come my way for a while (I still believe in ultimate success),  I had to shift my dream a bit and make room for expansion.

I’m now developing and implementing Plan B. This is where I find something else that makes me happy and create a new income stream from that other love. No, I’m not cheating on my writing muse, Shirley. In fact, she’s come back to life as I’ve shifted focus to this new endeavor. I think she’s happy to have my mind occupied elsewhere. It takes the stress off of her.

The great thing about coming up with a Plan B is that hopefully it will keep me from re-entering the corporate world, from which I still have scars on my belly (not really, but you get the idea!)

I’m shooting for a big unveiling within a month. I think you’ll be surprised. But the real reason for writing about this is because I’m sensing desperation in some of my writing friends. It is very difficult to accept but being a successful author actually means selling more than 100 copies of your book.  I’ve seen similar figures on the internet, but here’s a quote and link for you – “Most of the one million books published in the United States each year will never sell more than 100 copies.”

How Many Copies of a Book are Sold, On Average?

For those of us who dreamed of writing on the beach or on the veranda of an Italian villa during our retirement, we may have to shift our expectations slightly. However, you’ll never find me telling you to give up on your dream because I definitely believe you must have at least one and many, many times they do come true. So, plug on, dear ones, as I plan to, but maybe think of a lovable sideline to add to the mix.

Cheers to all the believers in the world!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Are We Leaving 10 Million Customers Behind?

So, today I read in the AARP magazine (yes, I’m old enough to get it) that 28% of those 67 and older use e-readers. I immediately headed for the 2010 census and guess what? There are 40.4 million people in the US over the age of 65. That means we Indie authors who publish digital copies of our books have a built-in audience of somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 million readers.

Wow! That’s a great audience to market to and yet, I can’t remember seeing any books advertised lately specifically for the older crowd. Can you? I have a work in progress right now that is a love story/mystery with two seniors as the main characters. Maybe I’m on to something! Besides, the fact that I love this story, that is.

So, this isn’t a big long post, but just a short and simple question: Are we missing an opportunity here?

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Corporate Voice

I had big plans a few months ago to transition from a corporate job into a social media hired gun. Big plans. Here’s the big problem with that plan – I can’t stand to do corporate speak.

Let’s face it - most of Corporate America is stuck on a sound-alike loop, where everything from memos to marketing copy, sounds the same – from company to company and from employee to employee. Good luck finding someone in a corporate environment whose email can be distinguished from everyone else’s based on “voice” alone.

Interestingly enough, I’ve had bosses and friends who have asked me to punch up a communication, only to cross out and change everything that was unique and made it attention-catching.  These people like the way I sound as long as it’s me sounding that way. They are uncomfortable being distinctive and noticeable themselves.

I had lunch with a friend recently and during our discussion she mentioned that there is a whole world out there with social media needs that ISN’T corporate and asked why I didn’t pursue artists and writers who could use some help. I was floored. Duh! Here I am a writer and I hadn’t realized that I could easily find other creatives who need a little help in the social media world. I no longer need to use my “corporate voice.” Thank you Universe.

I think any creative writer is deeply harmed by trying to float between these two worlds – corporate and artistic.  In my humble opinion, the most common results of corporate speak is canned, boxed and soul stealing. So, today, I’m officially abandoning my long association with my Corporate Voice.

It took me what felt like forever to find my writing voice, partly because it was buried beneath its evil step-sibling, so that today feels a bit like my personal Independence Day.  I just marked it on my calendar.

No kidding.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

And Now for the Newest Additions!

I’m taking a new tack into the wind. I’m trying out a couple of new blog ideas – subjects that I love and are important to me, but don’t quite fit into my current two blogs – Red Mojo Mama Musings and In the Writing Groove. Here are my newest babies:

Live Young Die Old – I’m hoping you’ll be excited about this one. I’ve been passionate for years about resisting our society ideas about aging. I got very turned on by a website I’ll be presenting to all of you about women in New York City, who are definitely older but still extremely fashionable and courageous in their lives. They are young at heart. Everything about this blog will be geared towards encouraging and supporting a youthful outlook on life and spirited lifestyle.
Fabulous For Less  I’m personally frugal but not cheap, so I’ve always been attracted to finding ways to save money and still get what I want. I think most people would love to have access to good stuff in life for less than their currently paying for stuff they don’t even really want. I’ll be showing the way to get or make the most fabulous of things, announce your personality, live life to the fullest and all for less, in most cases, much less than you’re shelling out now. You don’t have to pay top dollar to live like you want to.

So, there they are – I hope you’ll stop by and get a feel for these newborns. Watch closely over the next couple of weeks as they learn to fly.