Thursday, November 13, 2008

POD Publishing, online sales ... and 2009!

Readers have been asking if the economic downturn (nice euphemism for it) has affected online sales of the Keegan novels ... and, if so, what does 2009 look like, and do I plan to stick around?!

Those are complex questions, and the answers are -- in brief! -- yes; murky; and yes.

About five months ago, I'd had real, serious ambitions regarding giving up the day job, but luckily -- I didn't. Writing is still a hobby. It's a hulluva nice one. I get to play with gorgeous characters, let my imagination off the leash to run, jump in and live the adventures in a way that doesn't happen if you're "only" daydreaming. But, saleswise?!

Have you seen this, on the New York Times?
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/11/consumers-arent-shopping-online-either/?em

It's a quick read, and the title tells all: Consumers Aren't Shopping Online Either.

In fact, consumers aren't shopping. Period. Stores are closing everywhere. Online stores have more survivability because of their lower overhead -- but it's a mistake to assume there's no overhead whatever in an online store. They actually do cost quite a bit to own and operate.

This commentator on the above article nailed the inescapable bottom line: eCommerce is just another sales channel. Typical of financial analysts who do not use common sense to realize in the end, people just don’t have the financial means to buy anything anywhere, online or offline. — YMM. (Same link as above.)

Since the markets went "bung" the cold, hard fact is this: people either don't have the money for luxury goods (like fiction books), or they're more inclined to pay off their existing debt than buy a new book. If they haven't lost their job, they're uptight about job security, and they're saving against that impending rainy day.

What's it done to sales of Mel Keegan books? The same as it's done to sales of anything and everything, everywhere. Numbers are down far enough that I've relegated writing full time to ... oh, something like this time next year, with a bit of luck.

The market will bounce. It's just a question of when. With the US tipped to lose its AAA credit rating, though, it could be a year or three of lean times for American shoppers -- and when your marketplace is 90% located in the States (as mine is), well, your sales are going to be bruised. It's unavoidable.

Here's the story about the US and its credit rating, on CNBC:
http://www.cnbc.com//id/27641538

The good news for Keegan readers is that I enjoy writing. I'd write these books supposing I didn't get paid. And I know that people aren't not buying books because they don't want them dearly -- they do want them. But Real Life is all about the car payment, the mortgage, the power bills.


(If I could put up a notice saying FREE MEL KEEGAN BOOKS, GET YOUR FREE GAY NOVELS HERE! -- well, I'd do it. You'd be in seventh heaven if I said I was going to give them away, right?! Okay ... how about if I meet you halfway, guys: how about "buy one, get one free?" As in -- you buy one to help support the webstore and put fuel in the tank (!), and I'll shout you an ebook. How's that sound? Let me know ... I might just be able to work something out here.)

So writing is always going to be issuing from my brain, and eventually the markets will swing right around. I won't be able to write as much, or as fast, as if I were writing full time, but a book or two per year is still very doable.

Meaning, the backlist grows steadily. At the same time, we work on websites, more and better pages ... and when the market eventually recovers, I imagine I'll be well positioned to get the sales necessary to write full time. Here's hoping, anyway.

2009 looks like being carnage, right across the retail world. Major dot-comes like Amazon are saving big bucks by outsourcing a lot of what happens behind the scenes to countries like India: http://india.amazon.com/ ... which is rubbing a lot of American customers the wrong way:

I quit shopping at Amazon when I read that they had started outsourcing to India. I wont shop at *any* company that outsources, if I can avoid it. That leaves out most online retailers. There are *a lot* of consumers hat feel exactly the same way and I expect much of the decline in online sales is due to this fact. Why doesn’t the NT publicize that more than 2/3 of the public want outsourcing and “guest worker” visas like the H1-B ended and ended immediately. Look, we have lost millions of good paying jobs to outsourcing, enough to provide a decent job for every American wanting a job. — Mike Brooks (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/11/consumers-arent-shopping-online-either/?em)

Sure, Americans could be employed doing that work ... but Americans won't, and physically can't, work for Indian wages. Pay US wages for the same work, and the cost of running businesses like Amazon.com would blow out to the point where an average trade size paperback might cost US$35 (as they do in Australia already!) -- and you know what that price will do to book sales!


It's "rock and a hard place" time, and you can't slither around it. Keegan is being bruised the same way everyone is being bruised. Gay novels are a complete luxury, like a second camera, an electric toothbrush, a brand-new car, a five-star restaurant, the first-class ticket, the vacation in Jamaica. I acknowledge this instantly and readily ... but I also believe I have a lot to contribute, and I'll continue to write and publish, with the faith that the market will swing back, even if it take a few years.

The bottom line? If you're a writer -- and particularly if you're a POD publisher! -- don't give up the day job! Well, not yet, anyway!

See also:

http://mel-keegan.blogspot.com/2008/11/marketing-gay-books-online-challenge.html

and especially...

http://mel-keegan.blogspot.com/2008/09/publishing-series-read-it-in-order.html

To quote Oddball ... "Have a little faith, baby." (He also said, and I quote, "Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?" Unquote. And, motion seconded.)

Cheers,
MK

1 comment:

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