March provided some deeper insight into how my decisions are intertwined with my success in reaching the donation goal. Since success in book-selling is gauged by sales (duh), I can see in simple numbers where I am doing well and where I need work. March was a slow month compared to January and February. This could be due to any number of factors, ranging from promotional mistakes on my part to the possibility that people just ran out of money on their holiday gift cards. There are no reviews below a 4 out of 5 on Amazon, so it isn’t as though the book is being panned. What’s important is that I am learning and pushing forward.
Nearly all of my sales still come through Amazon. It makes sense, since most of my ratings and reviews are on that site. Now that the online book-selling mega-store has purchased Goodreads, I can expect that this trend will continue. What Goodreads does is allow readers to network with each other and recommend books through ratings and similar interests. Amazon now owns the top book recommending site and the top book selling site.
The decision I have to make is whether I can more quickly reach my pledge goal by being exclusive on Amazon. This would mean forsaking Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords (CreateSpace is fine because it is a subsidy of Amazon). It is counter intuitive to think that narrowing availability and engaging in free promotional days would help, but the numbers back this up. I’m going to hold off on making any changes for now, but if Amazon’s trend continues, I’ll revisit the idea.
Despite what we were told as children, books are judged by their covers. I made the current cover for my book, which is why it looks amateur and doesn’t capture any sense of what the book is about. Some book cover designers charge between $300-$1200. I priced around and found an inexpensive and professional graphics artist for under $100. This investment should boost sales, but I am careful to avoid dipping into “pledge funds” to pay for it. There is a difference between reinvesting in a product and funneling money wastefully.
Nothing sells books like having more books to sell. I am currently 23,000+ words into the first draft of the next book in the Captain James Hook series. I started typing in February and am on schedule to be done with this draft by June. From there it needs to get edited and revised. With the wind at my back, the title should be out in the last quarter of the calendar year.
The Learning Curve
One of the most frequent conversations teachers have with students is about learning from their mistakes and how failure can lead to success. I suppose some of that rubbed off on me, because even though March was a slower month, the steps I outlined above should provide the boost I need to assure I reach my $1000 pledge in time for winter 2013.