Books are changing. One writer whose work I love just wrapped up a Kickstarter project to crowdfund their paperback; another writing friend just asked me about whether I thought their work would be viable to self-publish (it is).
I started early with electronically publishing shorts and flash. I would have preferred to start with long fiction or nonfiction—it sells better and has more meat—but we work with what we have and I tend to start in flash when rebuilding some atrophied original fic muscles.
But since that start, I've seen a need to change things up. I would occasionally publish a book dead. The problem was usually the cover, but sometimes it was the summary. I did one cover experiment that it's now thoroughly safe to say I need to undo. The old cover worked better. Pricing has changed, sales are languishing without the KDP Select boost, and it's just time to make sure all my myriad of items match reader's expectations the way I want.
Pricing Out of the Ghetto
Dean Wesley Smith just published a blog post/article on updated recommended price points. In short, even for short stories, publishing at $0.99 is becoming a bad idea if you don't already have a reputation, which is tough: most of my shorts aren't long enough to warrant a larger price tag.
I've been working on corraling those pesky little drabbles into a meaty and interesting collection with bridging parts, but they've been woefully uncooperative and so I have yet to take all the drabbles down and up the prices on my shorts into a decent slot.
Collections have just become a dramatic priority again, and so has serious evaluation of the works I do have published for whether they are priced correctly.
This post by M. Louisa Locke clued me in to an area I've known I didn't know how to use and what I probably ought to be doing with it and how: the very scary area of tags, categories, and keywords. Optimizing these babies can make or break the sales of your book and they are a bear to try to understand.
I tended to just skate by on mine. I put in stuff, hoping I'd picked the right details, but from the start, I had no idea what was really needed. I'll be going through everything with this article in hand.
Additionally, I admit to needing to tag the posts on this site. They're in dreadful need of some organization themselves. When I had it all by category, that was fine for temporary, but since I changed the home page to dump everything, I think we need to do better.
So trovia gave me some good advice for three of my story summaries. She showed me how I need to cover genre, character, setting, theme, and idea of plot in those 400 characters that I have only rarely taken full advantage of. It makes a difference, and I hope to quickly deal with some other fiction that's been languishing with haphazard summaries.
The three original summaries:
- Five women living in the world of space and the Alliance, experiencing the fragile cities of glass. Flash fic of the Alliance.
- Her song was broken, but blindly, she pressed forward with the blunt, desperate cries anyone could make. “Father! Father!” She was standing now, arms stretched forward as if to guide her, but her eyes were shut, gaze firmly on the inner darkness and the Light she knew must be just beyond. A short story of the Radiant Lands.
- A young noble has a mountain of a problem in his back yard, and he must seek the unfamiliar help of an alchemist to deal with it. But the help he receives is not at all what he expects. A short story of the Radiant Lands.
And then there's the new:
- Five women of the Alliance bound by the world they live in: space ships and colonies, cities of glass and steel. What happens when the glass cracks? Flash fiction
- Ten-year-old Miren knows of the loving tones that can lift a mortal mind toward the Creater God. But it takes a fight with her sister for her to truly hear Him sing. A fantasy short story
- no change
Not sure if I've finished making these better, but I did notice they are better.
It might take a while to get all of these things where I want them. It's a big project. I have four pen names for nonfiction, SFF fiction, spiritual fantasy fiction, and then the contemporary Christian stuff. Between the lot of them, I have 22 pieces to evaluate covers, summaries, tags, categories, keywords, and pricing across three profiles on five different sites.
Wish me luck.