Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Do Free E-books Increase Sales?

Do Free E-books Increase Sales?

I'm trying an experiment. We hear so much about free e-books and $.99 books in the present market climate. Especially for authors e-publishing their backlist, we have to ask the question—How do readers find us? With over 70 books for sale, about a quarter of those in e-book form, how do readers know my backlist from my current titles?

For Easter week, I gave away my re-release LOVE IN BLOOM, now an e-book, with a coupon at Smashwords.com. I've done this before and had about a dozen downloads. This time a blogger who posts free books picked it up and I had over 200 downloads! But I didn't sell any of my other backlist titles there. I sold two on Amazon. My husband, wise man that he is, told me to give those readers a chance to read LOVE IN BLOOM and maybe sales would go up! To give the readers who do return to my backlist a bonus, I lowered the prices on MOM MEETS DAD to $.99 on Amazon and Smashwords. The price cut hasn't reached Barnes and Noble yet. I'm going to allow the price to stay at $.99 for the month.

Something else I did when I decided to put up my backlist was design the covers all similarly. They have an identifying arch with my name as well as my logo. Since I have titles from three different publishers, I used a different color for each publisher but all in the same style.

I'm building a following on Twitter and Facebook and enjoy posting regularly. My e-books are listed on my website and my Facebook author page. If either writers or readers have suggestions on how to help readers find those titles, I'm interested! Please feel free to comment or e-mail me. And remember, MOM MEETS DAD is $.99 for the month of May at Smashwords and on Kindle. Happy reading!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Little Things Matter: In Life And In Writing

One of the things I love about my cats is that they live in the moment! And they seem to appreciate the smallest gifts—the little things. I was labeling varieties of tomato plants on popsicle sticks. London and Ebbie seemed bored with another rainy day and no rainbows from the suncatchers. So I tossed a popsicle stick to each of them. Like kids, they each need one of their own. They played and played with them, batting them around, just lying on the floor watching them, moving the sticks a tiny bit with their paws and then sitting on them. The sticks were such little things that were giving them pleasure and exercise!

Life is made up of day-to-day moments. Some of them are important and some of them just shore us up for the next one. We've had a week of cloudy days and rain. But I found this beautiful little flower in my garden today along with the wonderful daffodil. And I smiled broadly, taking in the sun and letting it fill me up. I told myself to relax for just ten minutes, breathe and appreciate every little thing in my life, just like London and Ebbie can.

When I'm writing I have to, of course, concentrate on the big moments, the conflict moments, the most emotional moments in a relationship. But to give my characters real life, I have to concentrate on smaller moments, too. In my February release, His Daughter...Their Child, the hero and heroine ride to a canyon. The scenery, the striated canyon walls, the junipers growing by the stream, affect the emotions in the scene. It's a backdrop that allows them to stop and appreciate the feelings that are growing for each other. Little things that were common from a shared history in high school--like chocolate milk and biscotti at a friend's B&B--help them connect once more.

We know we're supposed to stop and smell the roses. I love doing that, too, when they're blooming. But I think we miss so many opportunities to smile, to fill up, to brighten someone else's day. I've found the little things matter--in writing...and in life.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

To Update A Re-Release Or Not

Today I'm going to discuss a dilemma veteran writers face—to update or not to update? I've had over seventy novels published by traditional publishers since 1991. Every writer is facing the "new" world of publishing which includes the e-reader world. I've often had readers ask me for copies of my first novels, but I couldn't provide them when they were out of print. I've had the rights on eleven novels for some time now, but was waiting for the right opportunity to do something with them. Suddenly writers and readers have been thrust into a digitalized world and there is more demand for ebooks. I waited because in 2000 Harlequin tried a demo program for ebooks that I was a participant in that didn't take off. Now the market is different.

When I set out to e-publish my re-releases, I thought I'd just have to learn about reformatting, nuclear option, the style requirements of each digital publisher and finding an artist to develop a new cover. But after I uploaded my first two published novels whose plots revolved largely around a non-tech world (1992-93), I started reading the rest with a different eye. I decided to update them. The basic plots were still universal and, to my surprise, timely! A small town doctor (LOVE IN BLOOM) must make a career decision. A hero with a special needs sister (KIT AND KISSES) finds a heroine worthy of his love. A massage therapist helps a type A personality single dad de-stress (RIBBONS AND RAINBOWS). Two eight year old girls who are best friends want to see their parents—a single mom and a single dad—fall in love (MOM MEETS DAD). I think you get the idea. But, of course, the technological advances were missing. When I wrote these books, cell phones weren't common. We were listening to tapes not CD's. We watched videotapes not DVD's. So I went through seven more books with an eye to making those changes—along with a few others I found along the way. A former English teacher can never stop editing. But, also, I didn't upload two of the titles because I didn't feel they could be updated successfully.

So I guess this is a question I have for readers and writers. When a writer brings out her re-releases, do you want those stories updated? Or do you want them preserved in the time in which they were written? All comments and discussion much appreciated! With coupon code MA29F Readers can download a free version of KIT AND KISSES at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/48129.