What’s the Deal?
Messages have been slowly filtering in, asking why Apprentice Swordceror is doing so well. Is there some secret? Some behind the scenes marketing juggernaut pushing sales of a fairly short, reasonably expensive E-book? Not that I’m in charge of, or even aware of. After some introspective pondering, here are some theories. They might be right, they might be wrong, but they’re all there is.
Facebook. 147 friends. Not a huge deal. Some are leftovers from my App gaming days, but plenty are actual friends. We may not get together as much as we’d like, but we pay attention to what’s going on in each other’s lives.
LinkedIn. 9 connections? Even less of a big deal. The best part about LinkedIn is the discussion groups. Arguably not the best use of time, but a way to engage with others in talking about your craft.
Blogger. Only 4 followers, one of which is my wife (Thank you, dear). Pageviews have increased incredibly since the Tuesday Tips segment has begun.
One possibility is that they have been all linked together. Blog posts shared on Facebook. Blog address posted on LinkedIn, and in the Author Info page at the end of Apprentice Swordceror.
Another guess is the focusing of these channels to more specific uses. LinkedIn for writing discussion and professional reviews only. The Blogsite for the weekly article, and select announcements only. (Thanks Jeremy). Facebook for sharing and the other social side of the equation. Everything in its place.
There was a post on a discussion group on LinkedIn about what constitutes Epic Fantasy versus generic Fantasy. Scope, character development, etc. The way the series is planned, it felt like it was going to be Epic. It also felt Action/Adventurey. Those were the two categories assigned to it during the publishing process. Turns out there were not a ton of fast moving titles in that category, except the one that will not, evidently, budge from first place(Still geeking out about playing leapfrog with the Wheel of Time books though). The initial buying surge from friends and family, along with a few positive reviews, must have pushed it up enough to get noticed, and the whole thing snowballed.
This has been a battle. Friends and family have advised that the book not be undervalued. $2.99 was the bare minimum for the highest royalty from Amazon. Without the cover art, that was the highest price I was willing to charge. When the cover art finally came through, the price went up a dollar. Sales increased, due to higher visibility. Some reviewers have complained about the price, but maybe a higher price helps. How many $.99 books do you read? Do you feel you’ve read a $.99 book? Someone proud enough to charge more than the absolute minimum may be worth a try.
This is still a struggle. There are new fixes noticed every day, and there will be versions uploaded addressing these for the foreseeable future. The book was a bit rushed. However, one of the things that may have contributed to the feel of the book is the lack of experience editing Fantasy by Ken Rodgers. Ken’s preferred genre is Military/Historical. His writing is rough, raw, and emotional. He was chosen, not because of his experience in the genre, but by several connections, friends of friends of co-workers, and his reasonable rates. The unfamiliarity of style, I believe, lends a different flavor to the novel(la). Plus, he’s a great guy, with many, many stories of his own.
This is likely the glue that keeps the synergy of this whole thing together. Take it easy. Don’t oversell. Engage your audience, and have your work ready and accessible, if they decide they want it. Be nice, and try to make sure all of your promotional material is about your audience and your work, not yourself. Nothing turns off a prospective buyer faster than an article with 17 “I”s and 9 “me”s. Focus on your work, your fans, your friends, your family. Not in that order. That gets you in trouble. A little humor helps sometimes, too.
This is for Bernadette: I read once that nobody wants an autobiography from someone who isn’t already famous. Your work should probably not be billed/framed as an autobiography. From what is known about your life and/or mistakes, a humorous self-help/philosophical hybrid, if done properly, could do VERY well. You’ll probably have to go pretty heavy on the humor. Best of luck to you.
Hopefully this answers some of the questions you have, and if it raises more, you know where to find me. Thanks again for your interest and now, your interaction!