Welcome to the New Wild West.
Of publishing, that is. I’m about to embark on an adventure in publishing my own short stories and I thought some of you want to know why I’m doing this. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to be published by my current traditional book publishers. Far from it—that relationship is strong, and plans are on track for the various editions of the current two books and the third book, THE DESCENT, to come out on schedule, both in the US and overseas.
This post is meant for those of you know who don’t follow the state of the publishing industry. The rest of you already know that it is currently going through a revolution, though no less than the rest of the media industry is and has been for the past seven or eight years. But the book publishing industry is going through a particularly crazy time right now as fewer people depend on brick and mortar stores to get their books, and it’s revolutionizing everything.
Increasingly, every day, book sales are driven by sales of electronic books. Online book sales have surpassed sales of books in physical stores, and sales of ebooks account for a significant percent—if not the majority—of any book’s total sales.
Buying books online and particularly through an ereader—your Kindle, Nook, Kobo or other electronic reading device—is a different experience than in a physical store. The biggest difference for authors is that browsing is an extremely limited experience. If it’s not one of the handful of books that Amazon or Barnes & Noble feels like pushing to you, you’re not going to see it. Studies have shown that most people who are heavy ereaders tend to only buy the books that are recommended by the recommendation system. They don’t really browse or poke around the site looking for undiscovered treasures.
That is really, really bad news for the 99.999 percent of authors who are not on the NYT bestseller list or Kindle’s Top 100 lists (whether paid or free).
But that brings me to why I’ll be “selling” short stories through Kindle.
Until recently, authors tried to push their books into the Top 100 listing on Kindle by offering free books. It got to be a pretty good formula so Kindle stopped that. The author or publisher cannot give a book away anymore except with Amazon’s permission, and these days this permission only comes through its “Select” program. If you enroll in the Select program, you are entitled to offer your book for free for five days. Five days only. (I’m not going to go into the details of Amazon’s self-publishing program today. There’s plenty of information on it out on the internet. But if enough people are interested, I can write on this more in a future post.)
What this means is that the author must use a strategy to maximize exposure for their book on those few precious days the book is free, in order to concentrate downloads and, with a great deal of luck, push the book into the Top 100 list. And this is what I’ll be trying to do.
I’m telling you this so that, hopefully, you will understand when I tell you soon that “The Marriage Price”, a short story that’s part of The Taker saga, will be available on Kindle but that I hope you won’t download it until those precious “free” days (and I’ll announce when those days are, no worries about that!) But because I’m using these stories in this crazy attempt to “trend” on Kindle, the story won’t be available on other ereader platforms for 90 days, and I won’t be posting it on the website (at least, not for a while). It’s not because I don’t appreciate my fans—I do!—but because we live in a new age. I hope you’ll bear with me as I try some new things to try to bring more readers into our world, the world of Lanny, Jonathan and Adair.
Thank you in advance for understanding.