Books have been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. They have inspired, entertained and taught me many things about the world and myself. In my youth, books competed with movies and the very limited television as entertainment; but had no equal when it came to education and self-fulfillment. Today is an entirely different world.
Yesterday my internet was out for hours, some kind of Comcast problem that was eventually, mysteriously resolved. That disruption created a sense of being disconnected from the mother ship. How do we access the thousands of movies and TV shows streaming away as we sit idle? There are literally more entertainment and educational options available than anyone could possibly watch. If that is the case, will there be a point in the future when there is no need for anything new. Of course new will always be alluring, but the reality is, without additional time, the need for new might just go away.
So we have a lifetime supply of books, movies, and TV shows to keep us entertained; why try the new author who may or may not be entertaining, or educational, or even good. Why risk that time on something that is not known? I don’t know the answer to that question.
Even now it is hard to break through the clutter. I read there are something like 2,000 to 4,000 new books published on Amazon every day. Many of those books are indie books that sell very few copies. Currently there are almost 50 million books on amazon available for purchase and the number is growing. Only a very small percentage of these books sell 500 copies. But that glut of books creates a maze of confusion that complicates the ability to reach readers—so many books so little time.
Due to this problem the free book marketing web sites came into existence. Bookbub, Freebooksy, Fussy Librarian and many, many more. These sites advertise to their members/followers for a fee from the authors the availability of free books or heavily discounted books. They exist because of the thousands and thousands of independent authors who are the majority of their customers who are looking for new readers. I use these sites to give away free e-books because it works, sort of. A newly released book gets a lot of attention and will result in follow up sales of the free book and other books by the author—but it is short lived. So you spend money to advertise your book to an audience that mostly wants free books in hope of what exactly? That you give away tons of books? That those free book seekers will actually spend real money and buy your other books? Yeah, I’m not sure of the reasoning either; but I do it.
Should a reader not accept free books because that does not provide support to the author? Of course not. If the author is stupid enough (or wise enough?) to offer free books, the reader should lap them up. But what is the commitment to a free book? Nothing? If you read the first ten pages of the free book and it doesn’t hit you right, would you continue or just move on to the next free book on your device? If you had paid $25 for a hardback book, you’re going to give that book every chance, not just a glance.
What this comes down to, is I have no idea how to reach readers who might enjoy my books; other than free books or very expensive Amazon advertising. But even that approach has limited success in the overcrowded book aisle at Amazon.
Another approach that works great, but I have no control over, is reader recommendation. This can be on-line reviews or word-of-mouth. Readers trust other readers not to steer them wrong, and that boosts sales. But that is about the first reader liking the book; and that hinges on writing.
Okay, everyone knows this; the best way to have success writing books is to write good books. Amazing revelation!
I recently revised the Muckraker books; Murder So Wrong, Murder So Strange and Murder So Final. Why? To make them better and to make them more readable. This can be a painful process for a writer to be critical of one of your masterpieces. My co-author, Stanley Nelson, was helpful in that regard, occasionally a little too helpful. We did accomplish our goal—I think the books are better and, hopefully, the reader will agree.
The promotion for the re-introduction of these books will include, of course, free book days on Amazon. The Murder So Wrong e-book will be free for download on December 10th, 17th, 21st and January 24th. If you haven’t read these books give them a try—after all the first one is free.
Thanks for being a reader!