Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kindle and Nook Collections

Some folks I know who are self-publishing on Kindle are talking about hundreds of sales for their works a month. (I don’t know any of those folks who are claiming thousands.) I have two self-published titles up on Amazon and Nook, Killing Trail and Days of Beer, and I haven’t come close to that number yet. Sales for Days of Beer have pretty well flatlined, but Killing Trail is still selling a few copies a month.

One thing the folks are saying who are publishing more is that it 1) helps to have more titles available, and 2) it helps if they are all basically in the same genre. I’m never going to be able to pull off the second one. I don’t read in any one genre and I just can’t focus my writing in one. I like stories of all kinds, and I want to write the kinds of stories I like to read. And I don’t want to use three or four different pseudonyms; I’d end up having to tell folks it was me, anyway.

However, I’ve decided that I’m going to put up at least two more ebooks from my own Razored Zen Press in 2012. One of them will not be the erotica collection I was talking about last year. I just decided I didn’t feel comfortable doing it. However, I do have two specific collections in mind that I will try to publish.

The first will be called Whiskey, Guns and Sin. It will be a noir/crime collection. The title story was previously published at Beat to a Pulp, but the ending is completely redone for this collection. The Swampy Jack story, “The Finest Cut” will also be in there. And another story, which I have an idea for but which hasn’t been written yet. I have a cover concept firmly in mind.

The second one will be a “Hauntings” collection. I have one story written for this already, called “Mouth Wet with Rain and Leaves.” There will be at least two more stories but I have to write them first. I have plenty of ideas. I don’t know what the collection title will be yet, but all the stories will deal with hauntings in some way or another. I have a cover idea for this one too, although not as firmly held.

Each of these collections will be shorter in total words than either Killing Trail or Days of Beer, but will contain three stories each and I’ll sell them for .99 cents. I’ll see if this will make any difference in my sales figures on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For those of you who are saying, oh no, not more Gramlich already after Days of Beer in December and In the Language of Scorpions in January, it’s going to be at least a couple of months before “Whiskey” goes up, and quite a bit longer than that before the “Hauntings” collection is ready.

It’s a crazy new world of publishing out there. I haven’t the foggiest what is going to happen. But I'm going to have my stuff in the mix some way or another.


Tom Doolan said...

There can never be enough published Gramlich. Good luck with these future projects!

I need to get Days of Beer...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad I'm not under contract to publish several titles a year because I'd fail miserably. Admire those of you who can write that fast!

Deka Black said...

Look this way: A all-terrain writer is someone very rare. I mean, a wordsmith able to pen stories of every genre he/she create.

You have a implulse, or talent, ot whatever you want to call it that many others want to have!

So, doesn't matter what happens. Feel proud of being this way ;)

Oh, by the way: Hope the sales doesn't stop.

Charles Gramlich said...

Tom, you're too kind man. Keep it up! :)

Alex, the collections will be pretty short since they are ebooks. Some of it is already done.

Deka, thanks, man. I do really like writing lots of different kinds of stories.

Oscar Case said...

Good luck on this venture, Charles. It never hurts to have too much.

Travis Cody said...

I don't say "Oh no" when you say you're going to put out more words for us to enjoy. I say "Put it on my wish list".

And I say thanks for making my wish list longer.

Chris said...

I know the current sense seems to be that selling your books for .99, regardless of length, and even giving them away, is the way to reach huge numbers. I even read an article about that the other day, from a writer whose numbers were huge in the wake of that and some program Amazon offers. I wish I'd bookmarked it. Anyway, the author was also expressing concern that it already seems to show that this practice is creating a culture of readers who will only get the free stuff, and that for all these downloads there aren't that many people reading them.

I don't know, it seems like a precedent is being set that a very low value is being placed on books, much like what happened in music, and that concerns me. Posted this exact comment on another blog discussing similar issues: The more I read of people talking about "the industry" it seems that what I want to do, and how I want to do it, flies in the face of what I should be doing if I want to be successful. I.e. free books, focusing on one genre, etc. But making those sacrifices doesn't mean I will be that kind of "successful" so I think I'll try and err to the side of making myself happy.

It'll be interesting to see how it plays out. But I remain suspicious that companies like Amazon, who so many people are raving about how great they are for writers, will ultimately come down as favorable to anyone but Amazon.

BernardL said...

It is a crazy world out there trying to get name recognition, and moving forward like you're doing is the best path to follow.

Ron Scheer said...

David Cranmer has been doing some interesting experiments around these issues. Rather than branding himself, he has made a franchise out of his Cash-Miles characters, and has made a brand of Beat to a Pulp, under which he's published various kinds of fiction and nonfiction.

The pricing issue is something else. Low-priced ebooks have made fiction a commodity. It's also more ephemeral than ever. The marketing is kind of like Hollywood movies, where you have a blitz of a marketing campaign and hope for a couple blockbuster weekends based on word of mouth. Then it's a long, slow glide into the long tail.

That may still change as e-writers develop a backlist for themselves. The new paradigm is still slouching toward Bethlehem.

Charles Gramlich said...

Oscar, thanks, man.

Travis Cody, then it's partly your fault. :) And I for one appreciate it.

Chris, Oh, Amazon is no doubt raking in the mula throughout all of this. these won't be full-length books, though, or even novella length. I'm figuring they'll be 5 to 6 thou words each and I think 99 cents is probably reasonable for that. I think, for me, I'm thinking 99 cents for 5 thousand, 1.99 for 10 to 20 thou, 2.99 for 20 thou to 30, maybe. something like that

Bernardl, hopefully it works.

Ron, so much up in the open in the pricing thing now. I think I will move personally toward what I mentioned in my comment to Chris above. I may post that more broadly too. Not that anyone will really listen

Ty said...

In my experience, novels tend to sell better than short stories or collections. Charles, I don't know if you've had the same experience or not.

One thing I think helps is to consistently put work out there to be found. It's not only a matter of having a lot of material, but releasing something new fairly often. Again, maybe that's just my experience.

And yes, I'd like to see more Gramlich out there, too.

Adventuresfantastic said...

Both of these sound interesting, and I will be looking for them.

In my reading experience (and I'm speaking in generalities here, acknowledging there are exceptions), the best writers are those who, for lack of a better word, transcend genre. They cross genre lines within the body of their work and within individual works. These writers don't get trapped by genre conventions and as a result continue to produce fresh and exciting stories long into their careers. They may have a genre that they are best known for, but these writers also write outside that focus. Sounds like you're one of those.

ivan said...

It amazes me that in this post-McLuhan Facebook/Twitter times, some of us still try, in probably an obsolete form, to emblazon WRITER on our tee shirts.
I hope I am wrong, but I think the days of the writer are finally over.

God's spies have moved to social networking...But now, it seems that it's all content an no style.

"Woke up this morning. Brushed my teeth. Jerked off."

sage said...

I brought "Days of Beer" and will read it on my Nook as soon as I finish the last chapter of the book I'm currently reading.

Jessica Ferguson said...

I've heard from friends whose books are also ebook that when they (or the publishers) give them away free for several days, they notice an increase in their sales too. I don't know what to attribute that to unless it's more reviews afterwards. You're certainly right--crazy new publishing world. I'll be waiting for your new releases.

Charles Gramlich said...

Ty, I think you're right about novels selling better than short stories and collections, but I don't think it's as big a difference in ebook as it is in print. I certainly won't be getting any new novel out anytime soon, though. I write too slow.

Keith, Joe Lansdale is one of those types of writers. Peter Straub too. There's a certain something that colors all their work but it can't be simply placed in any one genre.

Ivan, Man I hope you are wrong, but I don't have a strong argument against what you say.

Sage, thanks, man. I think you might find it funny. A bit of a trip report type thing, but with less travel and fewer exotic places. Just exotic beers.

Jess, I keep hearing that about 'free' giveaways too but I don't know if there is much hard data on it. Personally, there is so much free stuff out now that I don't buy as much as I used to for kindle.

nephite blood spartan heart said...

I can't fathom the amazon rankings by any stretch. I go up, I go down-gratefully at least, this last week was an all time high for me.

All the best with your upcoming collections.

Cloudia said...

I so appreciate your guidance in this new arena. . . .

Warm Aloha from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >

the walking man said...

I really want you to do well Charles you are one of the most versatile contemporary writers alive today. I don't know why, maybe you could tell me but for me personally I don't care anymore about being or getting or doing it myself published.

Not by the piece or the book. Being published just has no thril for me anymore, just the same as when I saw a magazine and an e-zine pick up a couple of my I saw my name in print. Then I didn't care any more and adopted a no submission policy.

Now I feel pretty much the same with the books though I sold almost 100 of each been there done that.

I have 6500 pieces of poetry and growing, 29 shots or short stories. 7 novel length works and god alone knows how much I have in the folder called NOT POETRY. All written since I started keeping the stuff since 2002 when Brooks threatened me if I ever threw another piece away again.

Early on I became disgusted with the whole publishing game, waiting for a nod from someone who can't write shit without spelling it wrong, and then
"repairs your book so it's saleable, all the while telling you how much trouble they ar going to for you and the other half is saying you ave to set up your own readings, venues and book stores to sell at. Bullshit and on top they take what percentage? Nah fuck it. As a writer I only have one goal left as a writer and given a few more years I will get there too.

But I do hope you get the whole pricing thing right. I picked u War and Peace on Kindle for free so I would really rethink your price by word count policy. {;-]}

Charles Gramlich said...

David J., yeah, it doesn't make a lot of sense. I try to match it with sales but it's pretty hard to do.

Cloudia, no prob!

Mark, well, my pricing thing is for working writers maybe. War and Peace ain't making a writer any money anymore. Though yeah, it is certainly a long book to get for free! I got it that way myself a year or so ago and one day I will read it.

Anonymous said...

Multiple genres, multiple identities. Multiple personalities. Versatility.
. . .Yes, this transmutation of our thoughts into digital impulses is a brave new adventure. Limit only to expand.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, your post and all these comments are a valuable lesson on self-publishing on Kindle. It's not going to be long before I read your ebooks.

Charles Gramlich said...

M.M. well said!

Anonymous said...

O, and per the pricing. I think that's excellent. My 1.99 for a 5000 worder is justifiable (I think) by the color illustrations. But on the whole, should I post more e-books (I'm thinking short 'tales'), the unillustrated will definitely go for .99. Short tales, imo are most appropriate for the medium, like short blogposts. and short comments. . .sigh. Thanks for the discussion, Charles!

Randy Johnson said...

I'll always prefer books, but one good thing authors have with this ebook thing is a way to get worthy story out there that might not otherwise find readers. There's so much good stuff that's not available no other way, not to mention a load of crap as well, that I do use it quite frequently> I stick to authors I have faith in so that i don't waste my bucks.

And as others say, can't get enough Gramlich.

Charles Gramlich said...

M.M., illustrations certainly change the cost, I would think. I'm looking forward to digging into your book as soon as I get some other things off my plate.

Randy, Thanks, man. I appreciate that. I'll never see myself making a full transition to electronic media, and if I didn't have Borgo publishing print editions of my stuff I'd go with print. But electronic is a nice compliment for other writings. Or it can be.

Steve Malley said...

Good man! I think short story collections are a great way for you to get more titles out there, and from everything I can see, more titles on the shelf means more money in the pocket. Now get out there and DO IT!!!

Unknown said...

I really cannot comment too much, as I do not own a Kindle or a Nook.

My son has been putting off reading your books that I got him for Christmas for fear, he wouldn't like them and I would not know how to report that to you. I have a friend who writes science fiction for TOR and he hates her writing. So he was nervous. He is skeptical about such things as self-publishing.

He was over on Saturday, and reported how good of a writer you are and how much he enjoys your books. Awesome. Score one for me with a great Christmas present.

laughingwolf said...

gopher it, charles...

like my sis was fond of saying: too much is enough! ...i've yet to see too much of gramlich tales, so it's FAR from enough!

David Cranmer said...

First let me say I have and am enjoying Days of Beer. A review will be coming.

I must say I'm happy with Amazon and folks have responded well to my collections. I'm not sure of the secret but have some ideas I plan on jotting down for a blog post one of these days.

Charles Gramlich said...

Steve, the first one is almost done. a couple of minor details and a cover.

Carole, that's very cool. I'm glad to hear it. I know my books, or any writer's books, won't be for everyone, but I'm always happy when it turns out well! Thanks for letting me know.

Laughingwolf, I think there's a couple in the first collection you will get a kick out of!

David, thanks, man. I appreciate that. Yeah, I've been pretty happy with how Amazon has handled the publications. they've got the process down pretty well.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I don't believe the writer who claims he made hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Days of Beer scared me to death. It was a great cautionary tale.

Rick said...

Well, this means you have to agree to an interview at White Cat Magazine where we can profile you and your work. Lana, too. Sorry to be so slow about getting to interviews, but I've been finishing a new novel and both time and reality tend to slip away!

Anyway, I'll email you both some questions. Your books deserve profile. You're a first-class writer.

Charles Gramlich said...

patti, well that wasn't exactly what I was hoping for but if it affected you I can't be too unhappy. :)

Rick, thanks, man. I appreciate that. I know you've been busy. looks like some great stuff coming up at White Cat.

laughingwolf said...

once things settle down around me, hope to get at least one e-reader

i'm sure i'll enjoy all your tales, just as in the past :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Laughingwolf, I sure do like mine. I use it quite a lot, though it will never replace print for me.

Erik Donald France said...

It is definitely a crazy world of publishing out there and "in here," too!

At a library where I work, there's much discussion about what to do to meet demand and output -- trying different digital readers, apps, PCs, print books, all of it at once. We're experimenting with a little of this and a little of that. It's a wild ride . . .