Book promotion

Home is a little tricky to promote, being the third book in a series and all. I think it works as a standalone novel, but opinions may differ–and in any case, some people might not bother with it if they think they’ll need to read two other novels to pick up the thread.

Anyway, here are a couple of things I’m trying:

Kindle Book Promotions is pretty expensive, but I used them for Dover Beach, and they delivered exactly what they said they’d deliver–a bunch of sales and customer reviews (although I’m pretty sure the sales didn’t recoup the cost). What I’m looking for now are mainly unbiased customer reviews. Haven’t seen any yet, but they will come.

I’m also trying Books and the Bear, which offers promotion on their Facebook page and Twitter page for a price that’s low enough that I thought I’d give it a try. They also have schemes to help you build your email list, which is a thing I’ve been thinking of starting. This will involve dealing with Mailchimp. Which I will probably do. Because it will help with my newsletter. Which I will probably start. With my buddies. Who will certainly do more about this than I will.

I’ll keep you posted.

Should I create audiobooks of my novels?

Most of my own “reading” nowadays is via audiobooks, which I listen to on my endless commute. There are pros and cons to this approach, but in my experience a good narrator can greatly increase my enjoyment of a book. (The main disadvantage is that it’s hard to skim an audiobook.)

It’s not especially hard to create audiobooks nowadays. ACX, the Audiobook Creation Exchange, provides all the resources an author needs–especially the ability to hook up with appropriate narrators. So I just need to decide whether it’s worth the time and money.

The money part is straightforward–narrators charge “Per Finished Hour”, which includes narration, engineering, corrections, and so on. (Many narrators do their own engineering.) So, if your audio book is seven hours long, and the narrator charges $200 per finished hour, you pay $1400.

Depending on the model you choose, you might get as much as 40% of the retail price as a royalty from Audible, the top audiobook vendor. If they charge, say, $20, that’s $8 per book. That’s a breakeven point of about 175 copies–which is not an insignificant number.

On the other hand, there’s synergy and cross-sales and all that good stuff. Maybe audiobooks will help increase my ebook or print book sales. Or maybe not.

Help me out here.

Boxed sets

I’m pondering creating a “boxed set” of the ebooks for The Last P.I. series; it would sell for less than the three books sold individually.The mechanism is fairly straightforward; the only real extra work (and expense) is to create a new cover. There’s lots of this going on nowadays. My publisher says that it would make the series more attractive to Bookbub, which is the main advertising channel for ebooks nowadays. One more way to get the word out.

Let me know what you think!

In which Alexa reads my novel to me

My wonderful kids got me an Amazon Echo Dot for Father’s Day. This is an awesome little toy. Alexa (the thing’s voice) can play music and set a timer and tell me jokes and do math problems and lots more. It didn’t take me long to discover that Alexa could read books in my Kindle library. So of course I told her to read one of my own books–in this case, Terra.

The first problem was that she insisted on narrating all the front matter–copyright statement, ISBN, etc. There should be a way to turn that off or skip through it, but I couldn’t figure it out.

Then she started reading my deathless prose. She will not be replacing professional audiobook narrators anytime soon. The meaning is reasonably clear in her narration; she pronounces the words correctly (except for the oddball name “Polkinghorne”) and she pauses between sentences. But her emphasis was consistently a bit off: she said “post OFFice” instead of “POST office”; “cell PHONE” instead of “CELL phone”. And she didn’t do dialog right: you need to drop your voice a bit when you come out of a line of dialog to identify the speaker: “Larry said” or “Vinnie said”. She didn’t do that. And of course she made no effort to characterize the speaker; they all sounded just like Alexa (she sounds great, but she doesn’t sound like Larry Barnes). I couldn’t imagine listening to her for a whole novel. I gave up after about a page.

By the way, one of the most popular posts I’ve written is the one where I contemplate whether Jeff Bezos is the Antichrist. Apparently people Google that question a lot, and my opinion comes up second, just after Jonathan Franzen’s.

Maybe I’ll ask Alexa what she thinks.

Terra now available on Kobo, Google Play, iTunes…

For those of you who like to take less-traveled roads, my new novel Terra is now available on Kobo, Google Play, and iTunes.  I’m not sure what’s taking Barnes & Noble so long.

Here’s an article about the market shares of ebook vendors.  iTunes has 11% of the market; Barnes & Noble has 8%; Kobo has 3%; Google Play has 2%; Amazon has almost all the rest.  Oddly, most of my sales come from Barnes & Noble.  I do see a smattering of sales from the other vendors not named Amazon.

I will now start reminding people that customer reviews are the life’s blood of book sales.  So far Terra has none.  I expect that they may be hard to come by, since the novel will be of most interest to folks who have read The Portal.  So it’s all the more urgent for me to browbeat you into both reading and reviewing the thing.

Here’s the plot summary and first chapter.