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Back to writing about books! Any fellow writers out there know that book sales have crapped the bed across the board. Anybody who says they aren’t is lying – or they’d better have evidence to back it up they’re willing to present. In spite of that, a fellow fantasy author and a hell of a guy named Michael Mathias just recently sold his one millionth book. That, I think is one hell of a milestone. A milestone I hope one day to reach, although at the rate things are going that might take a lot longer than I expected.

Amidst congratulating him on his success he admitted that book sales were down for him too, but KU was keeping him going. KU (Kindle Unlimited), which I’ve blogged about in the past, is a system where people pay $9.95 a month and get access to pretty much any book in the KU catalog at no additional cost. I think there’s a tie in to Amazon Prime Members too, but I forget exactly what it is.

My past blogs have discussed how I’ve been shying away from KU after trying it out here and there. The price per word paid to authors keeps going down and I felt I made more by going abroad with my books. You see, to be in KU a book has to be exclusive to Amazon (in digital format). I ran my tests and did my research and it seemed to me I could make 30% – 50% of my net royalties off of non-Amazon retailers if I could get my books out to said retailers, whereas leaving them exclusive to Amazon did not earn me enough extra money to offset the loss on other sales channels.

After talking to Mike, it occurred to me that I might need to look at things again.

About the same time I got an email from Smashwords. Smashwords distributes books enrolled to them to other sales outlets (iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc.). I used to put all my books through them as well as Amazon direct. Then Draft2Digital came along and I tried them out – much easier, faster, and a far better system. I highly recommend and praise D2D. Smashwords… not so much. Especially after I received an email from them letting me know that several of my books that had been in their premium catalog and doing just fine for years were suddenly no longer eligible because the covers weren’t sized properly.

What. The. ****.

Those two unrelated events came together and made me decide to try another experiment. My fantasy trilogy, Blades of Leander, had once been incredible popular. They were stories in a knights, wizards, and dragons kind of setting. Typical fantasy fare with my spin on things that put the characters first. Anyhow, they did awesome a couple of years ago but then they dropped off the charts. Dropped off as in now they are practically non-existent on said charts. When it comes to non-Amazon outlets, they were completely non-existent.

Well, Child of Fate, Victim of Fate, and Silver Dragon are now exclusive to Amazon and available to KU members at no cost! Not only that, but Child of Fate is free as of this morning and tomorrow to anyone on Amazon that wants to grab it.

I’m switching more things over too in the near future, so keep checking to see what comes up on special next!

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Screw Surviving, I Want Success!

A study was recently released where authors on Amazon were studied and the data smashed into a bunch of charts and demographics. I forget the name of it, and for the record I’ll admit I haven’t even purchased and read it myself. I have read other opinion based reviews of it, and that’s what prompted me to write this.

Let me add one more qualifier before I get into this. I love statistics. There, I said it. It’s out there. Math and statistics are powerful things. The powers of probability are what keep me from gambling…well, mostly. I gambled when I met my wife and married her, what with the statistic at the time stating that 50% of marriages end poorly, but that gamble paid off wonderfully. I’m ahead – why should I risk ruining my winning streak by gambling on anything else?

So my review of other people’s reviews is based on hearing how the KDP Select program has run its course and now Amazon is changing their system to help them bring in more money, rather than helping people find more freebies. That’s speculation on the part of bloggers, mind you, and not anything Amazon has indicated they are doing or will be doing. It makes sense though, especially if you’re prone to cynicism or conspiracy theories. Admit it, you are…we all are, otherwise we wouldn’t be so worried about dark corners fearing that “they” might be lurking in them.

So the research says most writers on Amazon make $500 or less a year. The ones that make it big though…phewy, they make it big! Jeff Bezos also stated that over a thousand authors are selling a thousand plus books a month. I haven’t seen the numbers but I believe there are probably at least tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of writers on amazon. I’m very proud to be in that thousand+ group. Depending on how today goes, I might even make it into the 8000 books sold per month club. Unfortunately, my biggest selling books are my Vitalis series, which are $.99 novellas, so the profits are not nearly as impressive as it may seem.

Unlike some of the lucky big names in the business, I haven’t had any overnight successes with my books. I’ve got 21 books published and I’m close to releasing numbers 22, 23, and 24. That has been my “secret” – I keep writing more books and I do so at a near-frantic pace. My current project that I had to tear myself away from to write this is Voidhawk – Lost Soul. It’s the fifth book in my Voidhawk series and I’m nearly done with it. I’m fighting hard to finish it by tomorrow night to get it in my editor’s hands, in fact. Two more chapters to go…roughly 10,000 words or so. In two days?! Yeah, I do that.

That brings me to another statistic in the report – although I beg your forgiveness for not being precise. Among the wildly successful writers on Amazon the vast majority of them write far more than those who are moderately successful or, well, not. I’ve already outpaced all of my peers I know when it comes to volume, and I have no intentions of stopping or slowing down. That’s what I mean when I say in the title of this post that I want success. I love writing and I approach each story anxious and excited to see how it turns out.  I think that’s a necessity in order to be able to throw words together in a manner that people will find interesting. That love and excitement combined with a work-a-holic ethic is what makes me confident that I will achieve the success I want. After all, if something doesn’t work for me I’m not afraid to try something else. When it comes to setting goals and reaching them, it’s important to remember to be honest and frank with one’s self.

So why aren’t I afraid of the speculation regarding Amazon changing their rankings to devalue the importance of freebies? That’s easy too – I’m not running any gimmicks. I have some free books out there but they’re not an advertising ploy that runs for a day or two then switches back to full price. To me that’s cruel. “Sorry Bob, if you’d have been here yesterday you could have had it for free but today it’s $4.99.” Not my style. My freebies are for people to sample and see if they like the kind of story I’m writing about. They are free and they remain free. One of them is even well over 100,000 words. At 250 words per page that’s more than 400 pages. For nuthin!

Do I care if Amazon lowers the rankings on that book compared to paid books? Nope. It’s not meant to compete against paid books, it’s meant to offer people a free ride to decide if they like my books and characters and want to learn more about them. It’s worked quite well thus far, I have to say, and it’s something I plan to continue doing. As much as I love writing, it’s also a business and one I want to make a living at. See the aforementioned “I want success” part above.

So my friends, be you a reader or a writer, take to heart what I’ve said. I will keep writing. I may branch out and try different things, but I’ll also continue doing what I’m doing presently. People seem to like it and that’s great because so do I! It is a lot of work, and if you’re a writer dreaming of making it big you need to be prepared for all the work involved. The days of one book every two years are over. I’m striving for a book a month these days. This is no place for slackers of for the faint of heart. Readers know what they want and they are in control of the market. As writers, we must appease them! It’s a win-win scenario, and in case you hadn’t figured it out by now, I plan on winning.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Amazon Prime: Am I Naive or Ignorant?

January 14, 2012 7 comments

I tossed a couple of my books into the KDP Select program back in December. KDP Select allows Amazon Prime members the opportunity to download a book for free and read it at their leisure, then check it back in when they’re finished so they can get another one (free). For each borrow against my books I get an even share of the $500,000 pool Amazon set aside. This could be a good or a bad thing, depending upon what that share is worth.

For December it worked out to be $1.70 per borrow. Considering the books I entered were $.99 books (every book in my Vitalis series is only $.99), if I sold a copy I would only receive $.35. Having them borrowed, on the other hand, was far more lucrative for me. Even better news, the program worked so well in December that Amazon upped the port to $700,000 in January of 2012.

Now the flip side – I had 9 copies of two books borrowed in December. 9 * 1.70 = $15.30. Nothing outstanding but I’ll take every penny I can get at this point. So far almost halfway through January I have 6 borrows. I also slipped two more books into being Amazon only – Human Nature and Sex Sells. No borrows on those yet, but It’s only been three days so far and those aren’t big selling books. I blame the cover art I have on them for starters. I’m told the books are great (I agree, but I’m biased). The other reason marketing tactics, I’ve never used any. Time to put an end to that!

That’s the other benefit for authors in the KDP Select program: promotions. I can schedule 1 – 5 days in a 90 day period for each book to be offered for free. How does that help sales? It slips the book to links where people can find and grab it, and the more people that grab it, the more lists it gets on. That’s exposure, and exposure is what sells books for a little feller like me.

Thus Human Nature has been available for free yesterday and today. I’ll probably try it again next month some time. Sex Sells I plan to have go free on Tuesday and Wednesday of the coming week (January 17 & 18). Not long after that I’ll run New Beginnings (in my Vitalis series) free for a day or two as well as a gimmick to help boost interest in the release of the third book in that series (Parasites). Parasites will also be in the KDP Select program, for the Amazon Prime readers out there.

Speaking of Amazon Prime, WTF is it? I’ll be honest, before KDP Select I had no idea. I live in my sheltered world writing, working, and picking up heavy weights. I don’t get out much and when I do it’s because I’ve been dragged (kicking and screaming) to the mall so my wife can go shopping. I did, however, get a Kindle Fire for Christmas. It’s neat, I really enjoy it and I wish it would have been available a few years ago when I suckered myself into buying my iPad. C’est la vie. Shoppers remorse aside, the Kindle Fire came with a month of free Amazon Prime membership. So I got to see what all the buzz was about.

I still don’t get it. I hear Prime members get free shipping. Great… I’m not selling enough books to do much in the way of shopping yet though. Okay, what about borrowing KDP Select books? I tried it and was surprised to see I can only borrow one book a month, even if I return it. Suddenly it seemed much less worth it to me. It began to make sense why I wasn’t getting more borrows on my books. It’s a work in progress though, both for me and, I’m sure, for Amazon. If there’s more cool features to being a Prime member I’d like to learn about those too. Until then I’ll keep experimenting with trying to get more exposure for my books.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

It IS a Happy New Year

January 4, 2012 1 comment

Earlier this week I got an email from a reader that told me she’d gotten a Kindle Fire for Christmas. She grabbed one of my books (Dark Earth), and was hooked. Then she grabbed Wanted and the hook sunk in even deeper. She came up for air long enough to send me an email letting me know how much she was enjoying them and that, for me, was worth its weight in gold.

Sadly my sales have been slumping lately. I blame it on the holidays and people being busy with decompressing from the holiday stress (or recovering from New Year’s Eve). Or at least that’s what I’m hoping the slump is from. In spite of that, getting that one single email perked me up and helped remind me there’s more to this than me getting excited about the stories I’m telling and selling books. It’s also about touching people and entertaining them. Maybe even helping them a little. The reader I mentioned could certainly use a little escapism in her life, from what she told me, and I’m honored to have been picked to provide it for her.

She’s not the only one, just the most recent. I’ve had other people email me to let me know what they thought. So far the thoughts have always blown my socks off in a good way, so I encourage the world to keep ’em coming! I’m not much for shopping but for this cause I’m happy to go and find new socks. Heck, that’s why the first books in three of my series are free – so people can enjoy them without any strings. Just a chance to prove that there really is a free lunch. Of course I’m hoping those readers will then buy other books I’ve written. Even if they don’t, knowing it helped them find some stress relief, escapism, come up with a new angle on a problem, or just kept them entertained is a great feeling for me.

So my friends, feel free to check out Wanted, Voidhawk, and Dark Earth on you Kindle or Kindle Reader for the PC / Mac. They’re free on Amazon, just click on the links provided. And let me say thank you to each and every one, even those who write the nasty things on reviews – you all help to make me a better writer and a better person.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.