November 25, 2010
What sells an ebook
I remain intrigued by the fact that, helped along by the "free spree," The Path of Dreams had 2118 total Amazon downloads for October, while A Man of Few Words had 1900. And yet paid sales of the latter continue to outstrip the former ten to one.
It seems that people were more willing take a chance on the "exotic" looking The Path of Dreams when the opportunity cost was zero, but are more willing to actually pay for the familiar A Man of Few Words (this was true even when they were priced the same).
Joe Konrath emphasizes the importance a good story, a good blurb, a good cover, and a low price in making the sale. And like Dean Smith, a solid backlist.
The best promotion you can do is just get another product up and write more. And do better covers and better blurbs.
I would add that a recognizable fit with an identifiable genre can substitute for a backlist.
In the case of A Man of Few Words and The Path of Dreams, it seems that the cover and the blurb and the cost can lead the metaphorical horse to the water, but it's the content that makes it drink. Or to get more meta, it's the genre and thus the predictability of the content.
A Man of Few Words falls somewhere between fan fiction, criticism, and romance literature. It has a built-in audience, just as people who gravitate to Baen Books will read more books from Baen. Want to sell lots of books? Here's my big insight: write books that lots of people want to read.
When it comes to Mormon publishers, one other variable comes into play: orthodoxy. Cross that line, and you can end up losing the very market you wrote for. Except that exiting that no-man's-land, you've then got to find something that appeals to the secular market instead.
Angel Falling Softly also sells more Kindles than the rest of the Zarahemla books I handle (though, again, not as many as A Man of Few Words). People get vampires. They don't get Mormons.
UPDATE: cross-posted at TeleRead.