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Posts Tagged ‘book sales’

Discouragement

I’ve been struggling for a long time with writing (actually lack of), and I’ve tried some of the things that have been suggested. I’ve tried to get enthusiastic about it again. I actually sat down and wrote a little bit on my WIP (it’s been in “P” for a long time now!), the other day, but I didn’t get much done. Every little bit is important, though, right?

Anyway, I’m beginning to realize that the main problem with me is lack of sales. See, here’s the thing. Everyone says to just write for myself. To forget about the publishing part and just write. But here’s why that doesn’t work for me. I’m a businesswoman. My writing is a business. Yes, it’s something I love, but it’s also how I would like to make a living. And that’s not happening anymore. It WAS happening back when I only had a few books out. Now that I have more, and much better ones at that, I can’t sell worth a flip. I’ve had a lot of other authors tell me this same thing the last few years.

So why can’t I just write for fun for awhile? Because I don’t have time. If I can’t make it with writing, then I need to find something else to spend my time doing that I CAN make it with. Editing is a little more profitable, so I’m not giving that up. I love editing. The problem is with editing is I’m not getting enough jobs. If I didn’t have my main client, I would probably give that up, too. One of my other clients decided to stop writing with one of her pen names, so that cut her work in half.

I’ve been trying to follow the Dave Ramsey plan to get out of debt then start saving money. He always says if you aren’t making enough at the job you’re doing, then you need to find something else. This isn’t really feasible for my full time job because I’ve been here 35 years and am just a few years away from retiring. But I need a good part time job that brings in a steady income. I have readers who beg me not to stop writing. But all of these readers aren’t out pimping my books (although I have a few that are so good about that).

Another option I have is to focus almost entirely on my other pen name. I’m actually selling a little more on Amazon with that pen name. And I have some ideas in genres that sell well. Genres I can’t really write under the Lauralynn name since Lauralynn books are too dark.

I’m almost tempted to try NaNoWriMo again. Almost. I said I would never do that again. My husband never wants me to do that again. And, honestly, I just don’t think I have that much time. But I remember the excitement of the two times I did it (and finished it!). I want that excitement back so badly!

So maybe I should just forget this little pity party and just DO IT. Anyone willing to kick me in the behind and tell me to stop whining? 🙂

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I almost didn’t post at all. I’m so overwhelmed. But I know that keeping a routine is always good. Here’s what’s going on.

1. I got a book I was supposed to proofread late, so now it’s bumping up against another proofread.

2. I’m trying to keep up with two pen names, which means writing two books, maintaining two Facebook profiles, maintaining two websites, checking yet another email and trying not to mix everything up. (This doesn’t include my personal FB and email.)

3. One of the elders where I go to church is at death’s door, and it’s really sad.

4. The father of one of my best friends is very sick.

5. A person on my husband’s side of the family is being abusive to another family member, and we’re having to deal with that.

6. I’m teaching Vacation Bible School in June, which hinders the proofreading and the writing. I envision a lot of late nights.

But…

1. I’ve started drinking Shakeology shakes which have a bunch of awesome ingredients, and I already feel like my energy level is up. (I hope it’s not just the power of suggestion.)

2. My blood sugar is down, and I’m hoping this is a good sign for me trying to get off my insulin by the end of the year.

3. I’ve lost a couple of pounds.

4. When I don’t feel like writing, I’ve been making myself sit down and write anyway, promising myself it’s just for at least 500 words or so, but I’ve ended up writing more.

5. My husband is awesome and understands that when I have a lot to do in my proofreading and writing business the housework might have to wait (and he does it).

6. I’m teaching Vacation Bible School in June, and it’s a very rewarding and uplifting experience.

7. I have proofreading jobs, for which I’m very thankful.

8. Even though book sales for Lauralynn are in the toilet right now, the Catherine pen name is doing well.

9. I have the most awesome friends in the world.

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Some of you read my whiny post the other day. I was at the point of giving up because my book sales were so bad right now. My .99 sale in February didn’t do squat. I felt like I was wasting my time. But then, other authors, through my blog and private email, let me know that I was actually doing much better than they were. Which made me feel kind of like a jerk for complaining. It was my early success that made me get so discouraged later. I thought the momentum would keep up, and it didn’t. But I’ve decided to keep writing and see where it goes. $100 a month is still income, right? I just hope it doesn’t go below that. But if it does, I need to keep producing new books for people to buy. Anyway, because of the time of discouragement, I didn’t write all week. And then, Saturday, I buckled down and wrote 1268 words. Not too bad.

I participated in Read an Ebook Week last week on Smashwords. I put all my .99 books on sale as free and all my other books at half price. There was a coupon code on each book page. I had about 300 downloads of my free books. and I actually had three sales of the half-priced ones. I know three sales isn’t much, but I rarely sell books at Smashwords. My sales through Smashwords come from their retail partners, Apple, Sony, Kobo, etc., the most sales coming from Sony. So three sales directly through Smashwords is good. And maybe, just maybe, some of the people who downloaded free books will try a paid book later. Who knows? It certainly didn’t cost me a thing.

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This is going to be a whining post, so if you’re not in the mood for that, just stop right here.

I hear writers say all the time, “It’s not about the money, it’s about doing what I love to do.” Really? I could make myself feel better by telling myself that if I’m not making any money. But it wouldn’t solve my problem, would it? Because, yeah, it IS about the money. I don’t mean that I don’t love writing. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have started it in the first place. But I want to do this for a LIVING. The cool thing about that is I could have the best of both worlds. Do what I love AND make money doing it. And I used to. I USED to make pretty decent money writing.

A couple of years ago, I was averaging FIVE times the income I’m making now, and that was back when I had fewer books out and they were all .99. (This isn’t counting the two months where I made a LOT of money. I left that out of the average.) Now I’m lucky in some months to make even $100. It fluctuates, but every month pretty much sucks now. Yesterday, I was looking at my book sales, and I only sold about five books. What??? That was REALLY bad. When ebooks and self-publishing were first getting started, it was so much easier to sell books. Now, readers have to slog through THOUSANDS of books to even find mine. In January of 2011, my novella, Guardian Vampire, got up to #134 in the Amazon store. That was pure euphoria. I’ve written several books since then that are so much better than GV, but they’ll never see that kind of success. There’s too much competition.

So how do you get people to find your books? I haven’t a clue. I took out an ad in IndTale magazine. I haven’t seen ANY results from that. I did a couple of other things, but they didn’t pan out either. And I can’t afford ads in more well-known venues. I’m terrible at self-promotion. With a full-time job, it’s hard to even have time for that.

This is the bottom line. Should I keep doing this? Will the writers who aren’t really serious about publishing, who are just dabbling, finally stop when they don’t make money, and trim down the competition? Everyone has a right to write and publish, so I’m not suggesting ANYONE stop publishing if that’s what they want to do. But I keep thinking some people will just get tired of it. I’m almost there myself. Not because I’m not serious about this, but because I AM serious about this…as a business. If I’m not making money writing, shouldn’t I pursue something else? “But, but, Lauralynn! You love writing! Keep doing it even if you’re not making money!” No. Because I NEED a business that makes money. And I can’t keep writing AND do something else AND do my full-time job. It’s a time thing. I need to spend my time in a productive manner. I don’t WANT to live paycheck to paycheck. I have $11 in my regular checking account (not my business one) and my mortgage was due on March 1. My husband will lose about 2 weeks pay because of his broken ankle. I need to be doing something in addition to my full time job so this kind of thing doesn’t happen.

Yes, I know I’ve probably shared more than I should have today. No one should have to hear about my financial woes. But this is MY blog. And I need to vent here.

End of rant.

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I was wondering if any of you have had any experience selling on your website with PayPal’s shopping cart. It looks like it’s just a matter of copy/pasting some html on a webpage, which I assume can be done on a WordPress page. When I had lunch with Anya Kelleye and Virginia McKevitt last Saturday (lots of fun was had!), Virginia mentioned she used to have that on her site. I didn’t even realize PayPal had a shopping cart.

Another thing I need to consider is sales tax. Right now, I would have to charge sales tax to anyone in my state. But states are trying to crack down on internet sales now, so eventually I would have to pay sales tax to multiple states. Would it be worth it?

The upside to this would be that I would get to keep the whole sale (minus PayPal fees) instead of having to share royalties with retailers. The downside would be that this would be quite a bit of trouble to get set up for sales that probably wouldn’t amount to much. Most people would rather buy from a retailer who can send ebooks electronically. It might be better for print books, but my print book sales are almost nothing anyway. I can’t even offer a lower price for ebooks as an incentive to buy directly from me because I can’t price anything lower than Amazon or they will lower their price when they find out.

So would it be worth it? What do all of you think? Have any of you tried it? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Can anyone even answer that question? I’m not sure I can. I know a lot of authors give away free books in order to get readers interested in buying their other books. This sounds like a sound strategy, right? But does it work? I’ve tried it a few times, and honestly, I haven’t seen much of a surge in sales. Even giving away for free the first in a series doesn’t always mean a boost in sales of the others in the series. Not for every author, anyway. And I think I know the reason for this. I’ll have to admit, I’m one of the guilty readers. Here’s what happens with me. I find all these free books, enough of them that it’s overwhelming. Some of these books are beginnings of series. If I do ever get around to reading the first in a series, that doesn’t always mean I read the NEXT book. Why? I think it’s mostly because I have, you know, all those other free books on my Kindle. So by the time I’ve read some of those, I’ve forgotten about that other book and that other author. Occasionally, there is an author that just blows me away, and I have to get more and more of his or her books. That’s happened to me with a couple of free books I’ve gotten in the past year, and I’m going to post about that author later, but this is the exception to the rule. Bad me.

So what’s the answer? Everyone always says “write a good book and they’ll come”. Well, the problem is, there are a bunch of books out there. And many of them are good. How does a reader slog through them? How can you get YOUR book in front of people for them to even decide if they like it? So you HAVE to do some marketing. So what’s the best way to do this without being obnoxious (like constant blasts on FB or Twitter)? I don’t know the answer.

So what do you all think? Have “free” promotions boosted your sales? I’m thinking about a giveaway on my blog in the near future involving free ebooks and something cute that would go along with the book. But will it help with sales? Although I love giving away freebies and interacting with other authors and readers, the bottom line is…well…the bottom line. If I want to make a living at this some day, things are going to have to change. But how? Only the Shadow knows. (Some of you may be too young to understand that last statement. LOL)

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I have a serious dilemma. Or should I say a series dilemma? Here’s the deal. I just finished the last chapter of Soul of a Vampire. But I think this book might have the potential of being the first in the series. I THINK. If it’s going to be a stand alone, I need to stop it where it is. But if it’s going to be a series, there’s an epilogue I need to write to hint at whose story might come next. I don’t know what to do. Many of you know my story of series writing. I wrote Guardian Vampire and a lot of readers wanted a sequel. But there was no sequel in my brain for it. So I wrote the Vampires’ Curse (Libby Fox) trilogy to please readers who liked series. It just doesn’t sell well. If it weren’t for Guardian Vampire and Haunted Lake, my sales would be TERRIBLE. Those two have always been my best sellers. And they’re stand alones. And they’re getting some age on them, so the momentum is slowing down. The only reason I hesitate to write a sequel to SoaV is because I was going to work on the book my husband thought of next. But I could put it off and write the sequel, then come back to the other one. However, I don’t want to disappoint my husband by putting off “his” book. Oh, what to do!

On the eating situation I was talking about earlier, I found that I can eat fish without the gag reflex taking over. I actually had for supper…sushi (not the raw kind), a few olives, and cheese & crackers. So I won’t have to revert to popcorn for supper again. LOL

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