Sunday, October 4, 2009

readers before royalties

I just had a great month of Kindle sales for Faking It; setting the price at 99 cents has attracted more readers and occasionally put me into the Top 100 special categories rankings (makes for good bragging rights for my parents and strangers, but Amazon rankings are a little tricky; still, it's nothing to frown at, either...).

When it comes to Kindle and e-book sales, however, I kind of feel like I'm both biting the hand that feeds me and selling myself short. I've discussed on this blog how I feel about tactile books and how much I love and support independent booksellers. I know they lose business to the Kindle, and I don't want to see them go away. But as a self-published author, I'm not only a writer, I'm a businessperson, and the bottom line is that I sell books on Kindle and am building a following. Am I underselling my talent by charging so little? Many might say yes. But I look at the bigger picture; I think from the end. Guys like Ray Bradbury and Stephen King used to sell stories to magazines that paid a penny per word, and that was after numerous rejections. Heck, the Beatles weren't exactly staying at Hamburg's version of The Plaza when they first started out.

The money will come -- it already is coming. So are the readers, and the reviews. So far, so good. Most important, I'm having fun.

There's a saying: "Do what you love; the money will follow." Don't listen to those that say there's no money to be made as an author, and don't ever sell yourself short, literally and metaphorically. Know what you want, make a plan, and visualize your plan manifesting itself. Most of all, love what you do, and do it as if it's already raking in the bucks. Do it for your readers, and remember: you're one of 'em.

One more thing: more than any other time, self-published authors have several channels of distribution and communication to get their books into the hands of readers. Take advantage of as many as possible, but be patient.


A Good Moroccan said...

I like your blog title, taken from When Harry Met Sally, I guess - still a very enjoyable film.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

This is a nice post, Elisa. Royalties are important, but without readers you've got nothing! I think expectations need to realistic and a long-term plan must be sought. With my games I try to write what sells, pure and simple. I know the demographics of the customers and I try to write what they want. It does pay off; I've got one game that nets me approximately $600 a month.

My novel, however, is a different kettle of fish. I'm writing what I want to write. We'll have to see...


Elisa said...

Beth, I get to flaunt my rhetorical training. You're talking about purpose and audience. In the case of your games you know exactly who and what you're writing for. Excellent. The novel is trickier -- first and foremost, I write my novels for me and those like me (just like Aaron Sorkin described). But I also want to SELL them and make money.

I'm actually not too far off from my original goal for the number of copies I wanted to sell in a year. Faking It was 2 more months to go before making the year mark, and I think I'm going to come very close thanks to my Kindle sales. To sell 5000 copies of your first novel, self-published, may not be very realistic unless you are the Wonder Woman of connections. (What kind of boots does she wear? I wonder...)

Elisa said...


Thanks! It's one of my favorite films, and it was one of the inspirations for Faking It. Thus, it seemed fitting that my blog would pay some homage to that.

thanks for posting a comment.


Elizabeth Bradley said...

I have a Kindle. I don't think electronic readers will be the demise of books. There's something about a real book.

I have noticed several "free" books on Kindle lately. I don't get why they're free. Some of them were lousy and a couple were quite good. I feel guilty reading someone's work for free.

Elisa said...

Elizabeth, my guess is that people offer free books for the same reason I offer my book for 99 cents -- they want to get a following of readers. (At least I hope it's that and not that they think their work is unworthy of a price.)

Terri said...

Elisa, I got "Faking It" on the Kindle, and I absolutely loved it. I can't wait until "Ordinary World" comes out. Along with my Kindle, I also have bookshelves, bags, and boxes full of "real" books. All my favorites end up there, so that I can curl up with them, flip to my favorite chapters and re-read, and then loan them out to friends. I don't believe those of us who truly love to read will ever let go of that pleasure, no matter how much we might appreciate the ease and speed of getting a story electronically. That's my opinion, anyway. Please, keep up the writing. You have a new fan in me!

Elisa said...

Thank you, Terri! I'm so glad you liked it!