Saturday, January 24, 2009

On any Saturday ... except this one

My kingdom for something meaningful to blog about! However, the wait continues for any response to be offered by Google, and as per the proof of The Lords of Harbendane ... it's Saturday. The mail doesn't deliver on Saturday or Sunday -- and this is the Australia Day long weekend, which means they won't be delivering on Monday, either.

The big news -- and I guess it's meaningful! -- is that Dangerous Moonlight has made it into the Amazon engine at long last:

That's pretty darned good news from where I'm sitting. This just popped up in the last couple of hours -- wasn't there this morning. I know. I looked. I've been looking for days while ... waiting.

I should also give a little plug to a new blog here, too. Aricia is at it again. Where does she find this stuff?

It's Aricia's Album, and the gist of it is (and I quote), "Aricia's album of delicious decadence, hot goss and hotter bods, gay goodies, celebs being silly, sweet treats and candy for your senses! Adult Content: you'll see some hot bods on this page, and very occasionally it'll get explicit. I'd rate this page MA 15+, but you make up your own mind." Unquote.

I have no idea where AG gets this stuff, but most people would pay money for it if it wasn't free! How about Brad Pitt in drag? John Barrowman on skates. Viggo Mortensen and Orlando Bloom canoodling. Antonio Banderas and Sean Bean in underwear. And ... so on. I'll hand it to you, kiddo: this one takes the cake.

And if you have the slightest doubt that I'm not telling you the pure, pristine truth, click on over there and see for yourself! Here it is, in all its, uh, digital glory:

Which leaves me answering a reader's questions, before I repair to the kitchen to make guacamole!

I was asked a couple of days ago, how hard is it to sell books via Amazon? And this is a difficult question to answer, because it's all about how hard you want to work on marketing. I can't stress enough that Amazon is your marketplace, not your sales team! Yes, your books will appear there, but it's like the "catch 22" of Google, or any other search engine: if people don't know what to search for, they won't find you. They have to know your name, or the title of your book, before you will suddenly pop out of the zillions of titles in the Amazon engine!

A few readers might be willing to go to Amazon and search on, for example, "gay historical novels," but the results that show up here are impossible. 978 titles appeared. I'm sure Mel Keegan is listed in there somewhere, but who's got the time, much less the inclination, to sift through the lot -- and then read scores of reader reviews --

And that's another thing. The reviews. They're all over the spectrum, with any ten readers/reviewers contradicting each other so massively that in the end it's as if the book wasn't reviewed at all.  To see what I mean, scan just a little bit of this: Customer Reviews - Shadows Return (Nightrunner)

You'll see what I mean in short order. I've heard about the Nightrunner books but haven't read them. The first two apparently went down well and earned a lot of praise; the third was heavily into torture (with about half the book devoted to it), and would also have profited from a good editing. However, readers are thoroughly divided on whether it's a two-star or five-star book. In the end, you'll have to make up your own mind!

So, how hard is it to sell books on Amazon? Depends what you call hard! You need to be blogging and have webpages, and doing press releases, giving away review copies, doing interviews, and basically getting your name in front of people everywhere. About 1 in 1000 will be interested to chase up what you've written, and you might just get a sale out of it. But if you get your books into the Amazon engine and wait for them to sell themselves via the "Amazon recommendations" or something ... uh, no. You'll have a long wait. Which is a very different thing from saying you can't sell books! You can. The little buggers just don't sell themselves. 

And now, the guacamole awaits, so --



Anonymous said...

I agree about Amazon, it's all knowing how to play the system. I make sure that I've always got the full complement of tags set up with "erastes" "gay historical fiction" "gay romance" etc etc - and I poke my publisher to make sure they add the right categories so the damned things show up in the filtered "best sellers" lists (if anyone other than authors ever check that kind of thing!) >;)

And promotion is vital too, regular blogging (and not all BUY MY BOOK which is likely to get anyone to clear off sharpish). I do attend some book chats on yahoo, but I dont know really how useful they are. As for reviews, the worst thing is when you see that the author has been so desperate as to leave reviews for their own books.

I wish that, here in the UK, they had the same book culture that the Americans have, book conventions where you can rent a table and sign and sell for the public, or to give panels and discussions on one's genre-but although we have 100s of "literary fairs" the only authors allowed to attend as authors are BIG NAMES and Celebs.

I've only read the first Nightrunner, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and I'll try the remainder and see how they go. I'm a bit worried that people didn't like torture though, my new book has that in it. eek.

Mel Keegan said...

You're dead right: there is so much to learn in the region of book marketing, it's a full-time job in itself. I don't think I'd even begun to grasp this before about 2006, when it finally dawned on me, if you want to sell books, you have to get out there and be known.

This epiphany seems to be hitting a lot of writers in the last five or eight years -- I suppose, since the turn of the millennium and the advent of the technology. I took AG's lead, went over and had a look at Storm Constantine's site, saw what she's up to. Good grief! A few years ago she decides to get into POD to breathe new life into her back- and mid-list titles (which are otherwise deadwood, like everyone else's), and before we have the chance to blink ... she has a publishing house with over 100 titles in the catalog, about 40 writers working with her editors, a staff ...!

It's largely about energy and dedication, I'm sure -- all the more so since, as you said, the book culture which is enjoyed in the US is absent in both Australia and the UK. People in the old Commonwealth countries don't seem to be reading the way they do in the States, and there's a nauseating inclination on the part of the industry to promote the big name authors who, to be fair, don't need it. Rats.

I haven't actually read the Nightrunner books, but friends have been recommending the first two. It seems you don't get into the industrial strength torture till the third book ... and it *is* about half the book! That might have been overdoing it a little wee bit?? There's quite a bit of what you can only term "brutality" in the digital novel I'm working up now, but it still would't be more than one or two percent of the book -- and it's a very large book.

Will be fascinated to see how you go with your new project -- what's the title? So we know what to watch out for!

Very best,

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