Thursday, January 26, 2012

Is it greed or just a little OCD when we check our sales rank so often?

Two years ago, I remember a period during a 99c sale (which was rare back then) when my book was selling something like one book every hour, and I was elated. 20-30 books a day was spectacular, but I spent all of my time watching the sales rank, worrying about every little change. Then six months ago I stopped having sales, stopped most social networking, and tried to concentrate on my writing. As expected, my sales eventually died off, down to something like a book every few days, but I was actually content, because I had sold something like 4,000 books and thought maybe that was it. Time to let the other Indies have the spotlight and get my next book out.

Then, just as an experiment, I decided to join Amazon Select last week and try a 2-day giveaway. After an astounding (to me) 11,000 free downloads in 48 hours, I assumed my book--now priced at $3.99--would return to never-never land like so many others. But it was not to be. Since then my book has been selling 5-10 copies every hour (plus hundreds of borrows and overseas sales like I've never seen before) and while I am extremely grateful (earning more in 3 days than all of last year!), I am not "content" anymore. Why? Because now I'm back to obsessing over that darn rank and every time I see it inch up a notch (meaning I'm selling slightly fewer books-per-hour than before), I worry that the ride is over. I am now totally unable to write because all I can think about is how the book is doing right now compared to 15 minutes ago.

Is it really just greed (for more money or more readers) that make some of us obsess so much over these darn numbers, or is it really just a case of OCD? For the first time I can understand why some people can't handle success. I would hate to think that I'm one of them...

BTW, to me the greed /OCD issue comes from being concerned when my rank falls from 600 to 700, when last week it was 150,000! Being aware of these changes is fine, being obsessed with them is another.

And by "obsessed" I mean checking my KDP sales numbers and Amazon Rank every 15 minutes.

And by "every 15 minutes" I mean every 5 minutes.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

That which we call a rose...

When it comes to giving your novel a title and a cover, sometime what you, the author, envision is not what your publisher's marketing people come up with. For Indies, the job is both simpler and more difficult. Simpler, in that you have full control of every aspect of the book, including cover art and title. More difficult, in that what you think is "perfect" might not actually draw in that many people. Or worse, potential readers are actually driven away by either the title or artwork.

I bring this up because a few days ago I tweaked the title of the Kindle version of my book as a test, and already I am seeing increased sales, especially overseas. Basically all I did was change my one-word title, "Cyberdrome" to "Cyberdrome (a science fiction thriller)." I don't know if this change helps it show up in searches, or what, but it does seem to be boosting sales right now.

I probably should have done this originally with the paperback because "Cyberdrome" does not really tell you anything about the nature of the book, other than the fact that a few people might guess that "Cyber" means that it might have something to do with computers. The name comes from a computer game my brother and I created many years ago for the old Atari-ST home computers (anyone here old enough (and geeky enough) to remember those?). Anyway, when I decided to try my hand at writing a 100,000-word SF story, I decided to make the first one loosely based on the back story to the game. So, in my case, it was obvious from the beginning what the title would be.

To be honest, I didn't really care if my first book sold well or not. I didn't write it for any other reason than to just try to write the best book I could. This is just a hobby for me, so the fact that Cyberdrome has sold just over 4,000 copies is just amazing to me. However, I will say that for my next dozen or so stories in the queue, I will be less strict in the naming department, and try to find titles that help "sell the story" a bit better.

So, what are your ideas regarding book titles? Ever find a book that you loved but hated the title? If you're a writer, do you find it easy to name your books? Has anyone ever suggested that you change a title (and did you?)