25 June 2014

A Pivotal Post

You'll see what I did...

Did you know that most tech startups begin life as one type of thing and then shift to something entirely different -- often more than once -- before they achieve success (or go the other way)? They call this 'Pivoting'. It's true. They do it all the time. Apparently Instagram started life as a butt-scratching app (this is not true).

I have no need to pivot when it comes to what I write; part of the joy of carving out my space as a writer in the world is that a blank sheet of paper is filled with all the possible realities that could exist, expressed in however I might make myself understood. I can, however, pivot in how I get those words to you.

First Level   To Other Levels ->
History for those who don't hang on every decision I make while trying to figure out my path to the best-seller list: I first put my books up on Amazon, because, well, AMAZON. After reading the tweets and posts by other authors, I realized that I might be missing out on potential readers by limiting myself to one distribution channel. So I broadened my reach and eventually settled in at Smashwords, where I could then distribute my books to other platforms like Nook, iBooks, and Kobo (who owns a Kobo? Do you own a Kobo? Kobo kobo kobo. That is a grammatically correct sentence in 5 languages*). 

Thus I reached out to the world. I spiffed up my doc files and gained entrance to the Smashwords Premium catalog. I unsubscribed from the Kindle Direct Publishing program for those books that made it to Smashwords (I did that first, before cross-distributing, just to cover that little legal detail in case Mr. Bezos decides to get litigious). I marketed on social media (though inefficiently, sporadically, and without proper effort -- 10 points from Ravenclaw for that failure). I saw dozens of people download free samples of my books from the Smashwords catalog. I even reduced prices across the board to 99 cents -- what monster won't drop 99 cents on a great book in electronic format? I completely failed to build a readership, and because I was so broadly distributed I could not fully utilize (bet you thought I was going to say "leverage", didn't you?) the marketing tools that my first distribution platform had on offer for me. 

And so I will pivot again. Focus the beam, to borrow a line from MC Frontalot (love that guy's wordsmithery and rhythm). I have taken my books out of the Smashwords catalog**, and likewise removed them from Nook and iBooks and Kobo, and the rest. I'm back inside the house that Jeff built. I re-joined the KDP Select program, so I'll be able to offer free-book days and leverage those (BAM -- leverage out of nowhere) offerings to greater effect. I may even tinker with pricing again. I know what I said about 99 cent ebooks forever, but forever is a long time and ain't no one buyin' them at 99 cents. May as well charge $2.99 for the longer stuff, right? They're worth it. I'm worth it! 

Look at the reviews. I tell good stories.

*No it isn't. I made that up -- but it could be in a language that exists on some alien world I have yet to dream up! Kobo. Tee-hee.

**Well, "Interstellar Conference Call, ET Calls Collect" is still up there, but it's my freebie novella. I love reading free books as much as the next guy. It's my ridiculously fun gift to the reader who just had to suffer through someone else's much worse free fiction. You're welcome.

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