I’m kidding. If you were wondering. But I am making some decisions, possibly even controversial-type decisions, and some folks out there might not be happy with me. I wouldn’t even blame them for that. It’s one of those things…there isn’t necessarily a perfect solution, so I need to go with the best idea I can find.
Meanwhile, this morning’s session lasted about an hour (58:31). It felt like it was going very slowly, so we’ll see later what the word-count turns out to be. Yesterday’s 42 minutes came out to be 1514 words.
So. About the career-reboot I mentioned yesterday: I haven’t published anything new in about two years–outside of short stories, which to my mind barely count. I’m still selling an occasional book, which is awesome, but I do have a little bit of a backlist and I’ve been neglecting it horribly. Just letting sales be whatever they want to be while I think about other things. I’m not one of those guys with 50 novels sitting around. Yet. But I do have seven books, plus a mess of short stories. It’s not a lot, by some measures, but it ain’t nothin’.
So I’m getting back into this writing gig, and trying to take it seriously. Pretending to be a grown-up, almost. Seems to me that letting the old books languish is a nonstarter of an idea.
Publishing new fiction has historically led to improved sales of old fiction, for sure, and I’m obviously trying to focus primarily on producing new fiction. Thus this daily-posting thing, for instance. But you know what? In addition to whatever random crap I said a minute ago, not to gratuitously change the subject in mid-paragraph or anything? I think the name “David Haywood Young” is difficult for people to either spell or remember. It also indicates at a very early stage that I might not be a woman. Before potential readers can even click to read a book’s description! How very sexist of my name, yes? Silly old thing.
Okay. Do I really want to hide that I ain’t all that female? Not especially, no. (Does that make me an exhibitionist? If not, how else might I qualify? Hmm…I’ll research that for potential profit-making opportunities later. But I suspect the audience would be very small.) (Hey. The audience, I said. Clean out your brain.)
Oh. I got sidetracked again. Starting over: the book I’m working on right now, intended to be the first in a series, has a female protagonist. I’d rather that people click to read more about the book, with less auto-dismissal based on gender. Not that any given person would necessarily do that, but some people will. They know who they are. Sometimes the rest of us can tell too. And come the revolution….
Also, Amazon does not give a lot of algorithmic love to old books. So: what if my books became new again? To go with the actually-new book I’m working on right now, and any others I can get ready in the near future?
I could switch the existing material over to my new name for fiction (“D H Young”), give the books/stories new covers, try to improve the blurbs, drastically improve keyword/category issues, and so forth. Not a bad bunch of ideas. Then, after I did that, maybe people who like my new stuff would find the old stuff! Plus, maybe the improved presentation would make advertising on Amazon’s site profitable, even for old stuff! Yay! Soon I could rule the world!
Yeah…on the other hand, if I get all drastic and un-publish the old stuff, then republish it under my new name, and also do the rest of the above, Amazon will treat everything as a new release. And show my books to far more people than I could manage otherwise. Then, if I can maintain a reasonable rate of production…goodish results may ensue. Over time.
Downside, and this is a biggie: I hate the idea of giving up the existing reviews, which is an unavoidable cost of this strategy. People have been very kind to me, and I appreciate it quite a bit. On the other hand, I made multiple mistakes when launching each and every one of the books. I think the books can do better the second time around, and find themselves more eyeballs to grab.
I’ll totally save copies of the reviews for myself, to look over in the future. Maybe that will help. But if you wrote a review, or even more than one? Let me take this opportunity to apologize. That effort and goodwill means a lot to me. It’s just…time to re-release the books, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to leave the older versions lying around.
This post is getting over-long, so I’ll leave the specifics for another time, but I also think a certain degree of rewriting (not a lot, but a bit) might help with some of the books. Also, not all of them are going to fit well with my new author identity, so I’ll probably leave them as they are for now. Until I come up with a better idea.
I’ve also dropped all non-Amazon e-book retailers for now. It’s not because I think that’s a good long-term strategy; it’s because in the short term the books will simply attract more readers and make more money. That’s not even a guess or a hope…it’s just what happens. More on that in a bit. But I’m also doing this because focusing on Amazon exclusively will take less of my time, and I’m busy figuring out new processes. I’ll get to the rest of the world later.
Some folks out there–Dean Wesley Smith among them–will say it’s better to “go wide” and have the books available for all potential buyers, rather than keeping them exclusive to one store. I agree with that, in principle. I especially disliked pulling the books from Google Play, which has actually been a more consistent money-maker for me than Amazon over the last couple of years (maybe their algorithms don’t care so much about the age of a book?), though to be honest the other retailers have been more irritating than either profitable or helpful to me.
But Amazon has the largest, busiest bookstore in the world. The second largest? Kindle Unlimited, the $10/month subscription-based read-all-you-want smorgasbord. Between the Best Seller List and the Popularity List, Kindle Unlimited borrowers and regular-type Amazon buyers can–though it’s up to them, of course–work together to increase a book’s exposure on the site. Plus, Kindle Unlimited people are binge-readers. Exactly the folks I most want to reach. To get access to those readers, I need to keep things exclusive with Amazon. For now. Obviously I can change my mind at any point, since the exclusivity agreement is only for 90 days at a time. Still…what’s better: making my material theoretically available to readers everywhere, or actually reaching far more actual readers?
You know what? I don’t have a good answer to that question. I’m just doing what I’m doing, for now, as always.
I’m not doing anything about pulling the old versions of the books down from Amazon right away. I’m pretty busy with just…you know, writing and editing and publishing stuff. But this is the plan–so, as always, we’ll see how it goes.
If you guys have thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them. Meanwhile? Have fun out there!
Yesterday’s dictation count: 1514 words
Time spent dictating: 42 minutes, 1 session
Week to date: 5632 words
Total words since 1/22/18: 5632