Saturday, April 25, 2009

gay ebooks: adventures in bookseller country

I have my bookseller's hat on today. I won't morph back into a writer for at least another week. This week, and for the next 4-6 days (in a lull from work), I'm a bookseller. And the challenge is ...

How the blithering heck do you draw readers' attention to new formats for old titles?

It's dead easy to draw their attention to books that are new; but unless you're a hack producing a brand spanking new 35,000 word shortie very month, your basic list won't change appreciably over six months. What's changing is the formats in which books are available, and the venues they're available from.

And readers don't seem to notice.

So here's the experiment: a bloody great icon that actually SHOUTS a fair bit. Check this out:

Amazing what you can do in 84k, isn't it? Anyway, this whopping great attention-grabber is getting pasted to the browser pages for each of the books as they appear at Smashwords and Kindle -- I'll get around to Mobipocket later. Just don't have the time to get to it right now.

And when you "click here to buy..." you're teleported to a new page in my bookstore with this header -- which again is shouting, deliberately:

Interestingly, I've had readers in Finland, new Zealand and Japan who downloaded all of LEGENDS to their iPhone. That was amazing and gratifying --

Speaking of LEGENDS: it's being hammered into shape right now. Proofread (at last!) and formatted. It'll be on its way to market in about ten days, I do believe. It wasn't until I'd assembled the whole thing into one file to export it to the DTP program that I realized how long it was. According to Microsquash, it runs close to 94,000 words. Which is a lot longer than I thought it was.

Anyway, today I'm a bookseller, and while I've got this particular hat on, I guess I can talk a little bit about the new bookstore which is being designed right now. It's going to be very slick indeed ... SQL and Joomla and Apache whatever, and so forth. I've been looking at designs, and was a little bit drawn to this one:

That one is a template from a company called vjtemplates ( -- and they have some great templates, but they all suffer from the same problem: they're "off the shelf." Nothing exactly fits what I want and need, at the same time as being fairly expensive (A$125 or so). The above template is not bad, but I find it too bright, too "in your face" for my own tastes. Which isn't to say it's not a great design -- it is. It's just not for me.

So there's nothing for it: the new bookstore is going to get done from scratch. DreamCraft to the rescue. Joomla, SQL, Apache and ... ummmmm. Right. It's also going to get a new domain to live on (or does one live IN a domain?)

This is where I am today. The bookseller has taken over, and I admit, I remain uneasy about the situation with Amazon. I went to the Big A t'other day and searched on "gay romance." I paged down through 200 books, and not a single Keegan title was anywhere in the list. Meaning, if you don't know who Keegan is, you won't be finding me at Amazon by browsing!

Lately, I've been spending a few hours here and there analysing traffic stats (Statcounter is marvelous for this), working out where readers and coming from, how the find me, what course they navigate around the sites and blogs, and what they buy in the end. It's actually extremely interesting.

Here's the info that fell out of the data: over 90% of all my sales are "driven" from my own pages. Not Amazon, not Kindle, not nuthin'. Almost all sales are coming from my own pages.

Okay, then. That's the ball I need to take up and run with. It was suggested to me a looong time ago that Amazon was a great place to be in, because people would find you by browsing. But I don't think the pundits who say this know too much about how "adult content" books are squirrelled away into the darker, dustier corners of the search engine! Thanks to the balls-up of a couple of weeks ago, everyone knows that something is not quite right at the Big A.

Since then, I've been working on a way to ... well, not to "beat the system," but to make the system work FOR me, instead of against me. I mentioned on Live Journal a little while ago that I had a Bright Idea --

It looks even brighter now than it did then, guys. Seriously, stay tuned. It'll take a wee while, because it's a lot more complex than I'd imagined, but I'm into something good here.

Gotta go back to work now, so --

Ciao for now,

No comments:

Post a Comment