Saturday, October 29, 2011

Self-Publishing: What Works--Changing Your Product Page

I read an article on Digital Book World by Carolyn McCray about refining your Amazon Product page. (Sorry, I can't make a link work, so you'll have to google it.) If you haven't read any blog posts by Carolyn, I recommend you do so. She’s one of those amazing (and incomprehensible to me) women who knows statistics. (I had five stat classes in grad school, yet couldn't do a statistic to save my life.) She’s figured things out about Amazon, that would never even occur to me. I tend to read her articles, go away for a while and think about them, then come back and read them again. And maybe a third time.

Carolyn has monkeyed around with her product page and tracked what worked. She’s figured out a formula that works best for the product pages. In this article, she recommends taking out your blurb and just doing some bullet point highlights. However, before your blurb, you should do two or three short (a few words to a few sentences) reviews. After your blurb, finish with a couple more, hopefully ones that would lead to buying the book or the next one. She also has a lot more good points, but I’ll let you read them for yourself, instead of parroting her here.

I went to Carolyn's product pages and partially agree with her. (Only partly because I would have liked more product descriptions for all her books.) But her bullet point idea was intriguing, and I liked the reviews before and after. What I didn’t like was the lines at the bottom of her product page about her other books, which didn’t make much sense to me, so I skipped reading them after the first book.

My fantasy books have not had the amazing success that my sweet historical Westerns have, only selling a couple of books a day. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try a different way. I went to the product page of Sower of Dreams and took out the blurb, replacing it with:

Overview of Sower of Dreams:

A country invaded.

A princess on the run for her life.

A hero from another world.

An evil god who wants their souls.

Can they join forces to defeat the evil one and win freedom for their people?

(On the product page, they're single-spaced except for the last line. Couldn't make the blog single space them.)

I also added reviews before and after Wild Montana Sky and Starry Montana Sky, but did NOT take out the blurb. I didn't want to mess up a good thing. :) So far, it doesn't seem to have made a difference.

I had a good feeling when I made the changes to the product pages of Sower of Dreams and Reaper of Dreams. In the last two days, I’m seeing some improvement. Yesterday, I sold 8 of Sower of Dreams and 4 of Reaper. Today already, I’ve sold 4 of Sower and 3 of Reaper, and it’s only 4:30 PT. In the three months I’ve had these books up, I have had two or three days when the sales have been slightly better, but that’s rare, especially for Reaper.

I've made changes to two of the books on Barnes & Noble, and intend to finish the other two. Also I'll make the changes on Smashwords.

I’ll keep people posted. But if you have a book that’s not doing well, it’s worth changing your product page to see what happens.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Showing the Money: September

It's that time of the month again to share my Amazon statement for the purpose of providing information to all authors who are interested in self-publishing.

My sales have been heading downward, partly due to the September slump, and partly because I made a big mistake. When I had Sower of Dreams and Reaper of Dreams formatted, I also had Wild Montana Sky and Starry Montana Sky reformatted. However, I didn't put them into prc files, and when I uploaded them, the formatting was off and the quotation marks messed up. I didn't catch this because the first few pages (the acknowledgments section) looked fine in the preview. I was focused on the other two books, and didn't pay the attention I should have. Two months went by and one reader gave me a 2 star, commenting on the formatting. Of course, I changed the books, but the damage was done.
so they didn't buy the book. Even though I changed the books, and Amazon has agreed to let buyers know there is a new version, that 2 star with the negative comments is there to stay.
So during September, I had people reading the sample and not liking the formatting,

However, the sales are still good and I'm grateful for every one of them.


Wild Montana Sky: 4211 sales at 35% $1473.98
Starry Montana Sky: 637 sales at 70% $3355.66
(outside countries) 62 sales at 35% $65.10
Total $4894.74

Wild Montana Sky: 11 sales at 35% $2.86
Starry Montana Sky: 4 sales at 70% $5.08
Total: $7.94

Wild Montana Sky 3 sales at 35% $.90
Starry Montana Sky 2 sales at 70% $3.58
Total: $4.48

Total for this series: $4907.16


Sower of Dreams: 96 sales at 35% $33.60
Reaper of Dreams 37 sales at 70% $75.48
(outside countries) 3 sales at 35% $3.15
Total: $112.23

Sower of Dreams: 3 sales at 35% $.78
Reaper of Dreams: 1 sales at 70% $1.24
Total: $2.02

Total for the Trilogy $114.25

Total for all four books: $5021.41

Thanks to all the authors, reviews, and readers who've supported my books!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Death Threats--Take Them Seriously

The recent murder of 8 people, wounding of 1, in Seal Beach by Scott Dekraai hits too close to home for me. My mother's neighbor, Lucia Kondas, was one of the women killed. Although I didn't know Lucia, I did know her husband, a psychologist, with whom I'd spoken.

In reading the stories, I saw a comment that I'd read or heard too many times before--"He threatened to kill her." In this case, it was, "He threatened to come to the shop and kill us."

In working as a crisis counselor for the last ten years, I've counseled far too many people impacted by murder from someone known to the victim. In all the cases I'm remembering, the person (usually a wife/ex-wife and maybe the children) had warnings or fears that they would be killed. Sometimes they took the threats seriously, sometimes they didn't.

However, there were also times, like with Scott Dekraai, that the murderer didn't stop with killing his intended victim. Often he (it's usually a man) would deliberately or accidently hurt or murder others.

The purpose of this blog (besides expressing my condolences to all who are mourning the loss of family and friends) is to alert people to take death threats seriously.

Many times it's hard for people to believe the killing could really happen. Normal people, people you're in contact with, don't go around killing--that's for those crazies on the news.

Or, perhaps intended victim dismisses your concerns, saying something like, "Oh, he really wouldn't do that. He's just trying to control me." Remember that the recipient of the death threats might not take them seriously because she once loved the man and perhaps had children with him. She doesn't think she could have picked a potential murderer to have sex with.

Therefore, when someone makes a threat to harm you or those you know, act. Report the person to the police. Take out a restraining order. If you work together, tell your employer. Take self-defense classes. (The killer doesn't always use a gun, sometimes he uses a knife or other instrument.) Be vigilant of your surroundings.

I'm sure there are others things to do as well. Readers, do you have any suggestions?

My thoughts and prayers go out to all who mourn the victims of the Seal Beach shootings.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Here are the next covers in the Montana Sky Series. What do you think?

I'm about two thirds through writing Stormy, and hope to have it published in December. I originally thought I'd get it done by November, but I've been working on other things as well.

Originally, I only had four books planned for the series. Then, about two months ago, another book idea came to me. I realized, the new story, Sheltering Montana Sky, was actually book four. So now I have five books in the series. I've also thought of three novellas, two of which I might write before Sheltering.

I'm finding my creativity is exploding with story ideas, and I'm taking notes on various stories when the ideas come to me. It's hard to stick to writing Stormy because I want to explore the others as well.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Remembering Steve Jobs

When I read the headlines that Steve Jobs had died, tears immediately came to my eyes. Even though I knew he was ill with cancer, I hoped (as I'm sure millions of others did) that he'd recover.

I've been an Apple fan since my first Apple (not Mac) computer. That tells you how long ago it was. I'm typing this on my Mac G4, with my Macbook Air open next to it, and my iphone on the other side.

However, Steve Jobs has touched my life with more than technology.

As I write this, I'm listening (for the third time) to the commence speech Steve gave to Stanford in 2010. If you haven't heard it, it's WELL worth hearing. So very inspirational, especially now that he's passed. (I couldn't get the link to work, so Google it.

Some quotes from the speech:

"Sometimes life's going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith."
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do."
"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life because almost everything...these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."
"No one wants to die....and yet death is the destination we all share...death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent. It clears out the old to make room for the new."
"Your time is limited so don't waste it by living other people's life."
"Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice."
"Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."

Steve Jobs changed the world in ways I can't even begin to list. People all over the world who didn't even know him are mourning today.

His final words in the speech: "Stay hungry. Stay foolish."

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and co-workers.

Steve Jobs, may your legacy live on.