So, for all you indie authors out there, you no doubt are feeling the effects of Amazon's recent change of policy and protocol vis a vis free downloads and the alteration of the ubiquitous algorithm. Bottom line, that shift force and effect by Amazon has led to reduced sales for all indie authors, yours truly included. I shall not belabor the theories behind it; there are excellent blogs on the subject by Russell Blake, Phoenix Sullivan and Ed Robertson that can be referred to for in depth analysis. I include the links now, in order, for comprehensive nuts-and-bolts commentary on the algorithm shifts/sales. For Russell Blake: http://russellblake.com/how-it-works/; For Phoenix Sullivan: blog on the topic here; and for Ed Robertson: nice rundown on the evidence.
Bottom line, free download promotionals no longer bear the same fruits for actual sales that they did several months ago, due to Amazon's recent actions concerning the promotionals. Is this a reason to cease utilizing the free-download thing to market your books? No. Simply do not expect that multiple-orgasm response to prodigious selling of your product, post-free phase. At least for repeat product intro into the marketplace as a free entity. I will be uploading a brand new book to Amazon in the next week, called The Last Harem, and will still take advantage of Amazon's free-promotional venue. I shall then report if this algorithm shift is as viable for new product as it is for old. I simply do not know and hope it is not. If it is, clearly, we indie authors must find other resourceful means by which to market our books.
Is all of the above - and inter-related blog input - cause and reason to despair? I think not. As Sullivan alludes in his above-blog, Amazon could again adjust its policy in 30 days to our advantage, and all that is articulated today regarding algorithms could change in that above-stated time frame. But let's say that does not happen. Let's say that Amazon is like a bad girlfriend who takes forever to come, and does not help indie writers again enjoy the auspicious days of recent old wherein free promotionals guaranteed massive pyroclastic flow of profits in the aftermath. What do authors like you and me do to increase sales, or at least maintain a healthy stream of revenue from existing product?
Well, for one thing, we must find alternative routes to marketing. Twitter is critical, so is Facebook, and half a dozen other mechanisms for reaching out to the masses. Also, local radio airtime for exposure, if you have access to it, cannot hurt. For those of you with disposable bling, television ads are good as well. I personally believe that the secret to maintaining a steady stream of revenue is to produce more product.
In her recent NY Times article, correspondent Julie Bosman describes by way of a best-selling author, Lisa Scottoline, that the public is like a huge maw that needs to be fed constantly (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/business/in-e-reader-age-of-writers-cramp-a-book-a-year-is-slacking.html?_r=1&ref=juliebosman). That in fact, the author who wishes to produce only one book every year or two may quickly be rendered irrelevant and forgettable. Which means, we as indie writers, must look to a future where we actually increase our output, rather than just maintain it. For example, I am currently finishing up two novels to be released in June and July (in addition to The Last Harem) and will augment those books with three other novels I've started, and an anthology novelette. In this way, I can be assured of a new product introduced into the marketplace at least once every month for the rest of the year. Why kill myself and aim for this goal? To feed the public beast of need; the old precept of supply and demand is in full force and effect with the KDP Select Amazon has offered us. I would advise all my colleagues to look to writing, writing, writing, and publish lest you perish, at an accelerated rate.
You might say: "Won't that haste in increasing output jeopardize the quality of work generated?" No. Don't let that be the case. Work assiduously, utilize an editor, defy traditional nay saying that to work in haste makes waste. Stay on the public radar; continue to twitter; continue to Facebook the planet. Become friends with a celebrity, even better, be caught in the headlights of a scandal with a celebrity, preferably oddly sexual (John Travolta's recent 'gay' harassment issues immediately leap to mind). Become famous. Save the planet from space aliens. Do anything - just stay visible regarding your work. If we follow that mandate, we cannot fail. Conversely, slack will lead to lack, and unless indie authors step up to the plate willing to accept a hopeless schedule of writing 24/7, mucho hours per day, there is little chance that those writers will sell well, let alone make a marginal profit.
I'll let you all know what happens with The Last Harem. Now, please, in the words of one of my favorite authors, go out there and buy my shit. If I have to cease purchasing Grey Goose vodka and drink that urine of a libation, Popov, again, I may just do a Hemingway and leave it all up to the Almighty.
Thank you for reading. And thank you for not smoking.