Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Price of Thinking

I’ve been thinking. I understand how dangerous that is. But perhaps you’ll bear with me. I decided over the Christmas break that I was going to self-publish two more Kindle/Nook collections this year. One was going to be called “Whiskey, Guns and Sin,” and would be noir/crime stories. The second would be called “The Gaunt,” and would feature ghost/horror stories set in the woods. I figured I’d include three stories in each, and make each collection somewhere between 5 and 10 thousand words, and charge 99 cents for them.

So far, I’ve completed the first collection, which would run to about 7500 words and contain:
Whiskey, Guns and Sin (with a new ending from that previously published on Beat to a Pulp.)
The Finest Cut. (New)
The Grey Within (New)

The second collection is partially completed and so far runs to about 6,000 words, although it would be more in the end. It contains:
The Gaunt (unfinished)
The Toad
Mouth Wet With Rain and Leaves
The Finding

Then I started getting my numbers back from the sales of “Killing Trail” (2.99) and “Days of Beer” (99 cents). The relative amount of money I’ve made is far greater for “Killing Trail,” which is at the 70 percent royalty rate, as compared to “Days of Beer.”

So, then I started thinking: What if I put all the stories together, built the collection to about 20,000 words, and charged 2.99. I could entitle the overall collection, “Whiskey, Guns and Sin,” and then inside have a part 1: Noir/Crime stories, and part 2: Ghost/horror stories.

How does this sound to you? Do you think readers would be put off by a collection that includes both noir and ghost stories? Would two unified collections be better? (I’ve also considered just adding more stories to each collection to take them each to 20,000, but that means a lot more writing and I have a couple of other projects I’d like to get to.)

As always, feedback is appreciated. I’ve missed a day or two of visiting blogs but am getting ready to head out. See you around the blogosphere.
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41 comments:

Travis Cody said...

I think you could combine the two different genres, but perhaps under a different overall title. Then the noir/crime stories section could still have the excellent title of "Whiskey, Guns, and Sin", while the ghost/horror stories section could have the outstanding title of "The Gaunt".

Merisi Vienna said...

Travis Cody's suggestion sounds good to me!

David Cranmer said...

You know me, Charles. I love mixing all the genres together. So I would enjoy it but it may be a turn off to other readers. I'll be interested what others have to say.

Chris said...

I'm all for the mix. And I'd happily pay 2.99 even for the shorter versions of each. So I'm no help in answering your question at all.

Tom Doolan said...

Yeah, I'd agree that Travis has the best suggestion.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis Cody, that's a good idea. Point well taken. I'll give that some thought.

Merisi, indeed. I like it.

David Cranmer, Yeah, I'm good with mixing too but I'm not sure about your general reader.

Chris, you are indeed, man.

Tom, I do like that. But what title for the whole? I've got to give that some thinking.

Deka Black said...

Travis is right. Maybe the overall title can be "Hardboiles Ghosts2 or "The Ghost of Noir". something that combine the two kind of stories in one.

Travis Cody said...

Glad you liked my thought. I wonder if the overall title can be found in the stories themselves? Noir, crime, ghosts in the woods...there might be some common thread buried in there somewhere.

SzélsőFa said...
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SzélsőFa said...

i am not a frequent reader of any of the three genres you mention, so my opinion might be biased.

my first instinct was to suggest to sell them separately because these three genres might, i repeat might, attract different kinds of readers, who do not like to mix genres.

but on the other hand i do presume anyone interested in noir/crime/horror is interested in reading noir/crime/horror as well.
i also suppose combining the two books into one (with a third title perhaps...) might gain you more readers.
i suppose readers originally interested in horror only might show interest in some of your other noir/crime stories as well.

Barbara Martin said...

Sometimes if I read too much of same thing I get bored, so mixing two or more genres together would be a great idea. Charles, you won't know until you try. But definitely food for thought. Thanks for sharing.

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka, I'm running with the idea, thinking now overall titles. thanks for the suggestions. I'll write them down as I think on it.

Travis Cody, a possibility that occurred to me was "Harm Land," but I don't know for sure.

Szelsofa, good point, I might be able to attract different readers to other titles I have, particularly the horror titles since I don't have a lot of noir stories out.

Barbara, yeah, I'm that way too. Thanks for the input.

Rick said...

Charles, you're right on the money, as usual.

The Golden Eagle said...

I'd also agree with Travis's suggestion.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What Cody said. I like my genres grouped together.

Charles Gramlich said...

Rick, thankee, man.

Golden Eagle, it is a good un.

Alex, that is probably the best of both worlds.

ivan said...

Well, I think Kubric-Clarke could certainly meld religion with science fiction...And I also think about the movie, Vanillla Sky. Sure, you can mix genres...Whoops, I almost typed nix genres. ")

Angie said...

Normally I'd say that three or four stories is more than enough to charge $2.99, but it sounds like all the stories are pretty short. [ponder] Still, I'll bet you could do it. The price of e-books in general (among the small presses, where prices are reasonable in the first place) have gone up noticeably in the last 6-9 months. My publisher's shorts start at $1.99 now, and longer shorts (not novelettes, but stories between... I think it's like 5-10K words) are $2.49. And some indie authors are pricing two-story collections at $2.99.

The data coming back indicates that the increase in per-unit income more than offsets the reduced unit sales.

Along the same lines, RWA did a survey recently which showed that below about $5, readers start to significantly doubt the quality of the book. Given RWA's emphasis, I'm betting this applies to novels, but still, there's a floor below which a lot of mainstream readers -- not the discount readers who snap up every ninety-nine cent novel they see, but the larger body of readers who are willing to pay more for a book they think they'll enjoy -- will assume a book is probably badly written, badly edited, or otherwise flawed.

http://www.rwa.org/cs/readership_stats -- scroll down to the second-to-last table.

I think we can extrapolate this down to short stories, and there are indie writers doing so and having good results. If I were you, I'd publish the two collections as they are, price them at $2.99, and leave them for at least a few months. See what happens. You can always lower the price later, but give it a chance at the price that gives you 70%; no sense leaving money on the table if you don't have to.

Angie

Snowbrush said...

They sound compatible to me, but if you have doubts, I suppose you can just entitle them "The Collected Works of Charles Gramlich."

Ty Johnston said...

I'm going to suggest something along the lines of what I've noticed DWS does ... do all three e-books.

Do the "Whiskey, Guns and Sin" e-book, and do "The Gaunt" e-book, AND do a third e-book that combines both, maybe with an extra story or two or three to make the deal seem a little better to the reader.

If you went that route, I'd suggest one of two pricing options: 99 cents for the shorter e-books and $2.99 for the longer one, or $2.99 for the shorter e-books and maybe $4.99 or $5.99 for the longer one.

David J. West said...

I do like the idea of a full collection with a new title-but I can't argue with Ty's and Dean's logic-either way now that I have a kindle I'm more open to these tales myself.

Charles Gramlich said...

Ivan, nix genres eh? hum, perhaps an idea whose time has come.

Angie, good food for thought. I'm gonna set it up both ways (without covers), and see which way I like first before I make a final decision. I'll check out the link.

Snowbrush, I don't know, the Gramlich name might kill the whole thing. :)

Ty, another interesting idea. I noticed you did something similar with sever, slice, and stab, which was a good idea. More food for thought. hum.

David J., the two parter has some aesthetic appeal to me. I do want to make money, of course, but I also want readers to get their money's worth. Lots of thinking to do.

the walking man said...

$2.99 is not outrageous for an e book. As for the other What rule say you can not have a two section book? All it takes is a separator/title page between the two. besides at that word count i think it would be interesting to go from spooks to noir. It would be a pretty quick read at any rate.

Charles Gramlich said...

Mark, yeah, I'm kind of intrigued with the possibilities. I don't know it's really been done before with ebooks.

BernardL said...

I would rather buy the collection for $2.99 like your splendid 'In The Language of Scorpions' , but most of the authors self-publishing on Amazon I know of are going for the 99 cent shorter offerings. They're marketing by giving away a bunch of free copies of one or the other, and promoting everywhere, banking on the name recognition excitement leading to sales on the rest. It seems to be working for them.

I have five completed novels I'm still querying with two others in progress. I'm only holding off self-publishing some of them because I have no clue where the heck all of this is going. No matter what you decide, my friend, I hope you'll keep us posted about the results. :)

oceangirl said...

Thinking is good, it sets the motion for action.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I like the idea of combining the two collections titled under two different heads. It certainly appeals to me. I, for one, would love to read it.

Richard Godwin said...

Charles mix it up. The great writers all did.

Ron Scheer said...

Maybe somebody already suggested this. Publish them as separates, but offer a deal on a purchase of both if you can. That gives the reader the choice.

laughingwolf said...

'harm land'... bloody brilliant!

why worry about separate genres when you can combine?

i recall some time back two shorter tales were combined into a single book, printed back to back, with one of them glued upside down... the book, not the tale...

not possible with e-books, of course

there are a number of groups on fb, some i'm a member of, with writers sharing their experiences and marketing/promotional/sales methods... perhaps worth a look?

i hear there are a number promoting on 'twitter' and 'google +' as well... likely more i'm not familiar with

laughingwolf said...
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Charles Gramlich said...

Bernardl, I'm leaning that way for sure. And thanks for your great review of "Scorpions." I much appreciate it. I'm gonna continue to put the full length novels up with Borgo, but I'm thinking most short stories I write from now on will go up via ebook.

Oceangirl, I like to think so. :)

Prashant, I'm pretty intrigued as well. Travis had a great idea.

Richard, a good mix is a pleasure for sure.

Ron, I probably will try it every which way before I'm done with this ebook experiment.

Charles Gramlich said...

Laughinwolf, yeah, kind of a "Razored Zen double." I like that!

sage said...

What is the royalty percentage on Days of Beer? I have purchased a number of Nook books in the 99 to 2.99 range--I think I like the idea of three stories together. Combining two genres gives the reader a broader flavor of your writing style.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sage, it's about 30 percent.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think an single author collection would work well-people like the diversity I think. Saw a museum exhibit this weekend, which made me think of you. It was in Nashville but it may come your way. It was called Fairy Tales, Monsters, and the Genetic Imagination and it was terrific. Here is some info about it. http://fristcenter.org/calendar-exhibitions/detail/fairy-tales-monsters-and-the-genetic-imagination

Randy Johnson said...

I have no problem mixing them. Sometimes that helps a reader in having a variety. There will always be those who read only SF, only crime, only horror. But there are many who like it all. I'm one.

Charles Gramlich said...

Patti, cool. I'd like to see that display. I've seen some similar things. Very interesting.

Randy, me too, as you well know.

Erik Donald France said...

I think it's a grand idea.

You could always split them off again later and recombine with newer material. Whatever works -- it's all good.

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, yes, there are a variety of ways. Keep at it till I find something that works, I guess.

Elaine Ash said...

Hi Charles, as you know, I write as Anonymous-9 and have been accused of genre-defying prose. (Maybe that's a nicest way possible of saying I can't make up my mind, not sure.) Anyway, it hasn't stopped me from getting nominated for awards or landing a publisher. So I say Go For It. I'm all for shaking up the norm a little bit, and I think if the voice and style holds your book together cohesively, then you can loosen up constraints on the genre-mix.