Sunday, July 22, 2012

Experiments in Publishing.

(See Active versus Passive Blogging. Photo by Louis)

A series of experiments in publishing.

For July, I am conducting a number of small experiments in publishing. The first experiment involves Twitter. Over the course of the last few months I was tweeting about two or three product links per day in addition to links about writing, publishing, the industry, and other related materials. For the month of July I have not been tweeting product links to my books. Most tweets were for Amazon Kindle books. Amazon is the biggie, and we all want to do well there. But it might be wise to stop chasing that best-seller dream and focus on building a core readership. If one thousand loyal fans bought one $2.99 book per year, that would be $2,000 in revenue. Ten thousand fans, buying one book a year for $2.99 would get me off disability. It really is just that simple.


I still crack the odd joke and tweet items of interest to my followers, and cross-post on a number of other platforms. With multiple accounts and some duplication, I probably only have three or four thousand unique followers, with friends and followers on all platforms adding up to less than 10,000 overall; e.g. on Facebook I have 1,492 friends.

The rationale is simple. Various sources have suggested that over-promotion is self-defeating and an audience becomes saturated over time. Often the solution is to continually build an audience. But the reach isn’t the only measure. Often there is no measurement of ‘quality’ in terms of an individual audience member. It’s also disproportionate, in that it might take a hundred new followers to generate ten real, qualified page views, and a hundred ‘good’ page views to sell one book. At this rate, it’s not a good idea to start buying followers. We might only make two bucks a book. Name recognition doesn’t take very long, not in any size of audience. That’s taken care of with a few repetitions.

Measuring results.

The way to measure the results of the experiment is very simple: compare July sales to months when we did tweet.

My second experiment involves Smashwords’ July month-long sale. All of my full-length novels are marked down 25 %, but I’m not tweeting or doing any other promotion except blog posts such as this one in particular. Page views are not high on SW for my titles, although I have given away about thirty copies of ‘Core Values,’ which is free on all my sales platforms right now, and it will be for some time to come.

So we’ll see just how we do without promoting a sale on Smashwords.

A third experiment involves the notion that we simply have to write more and publish more and this alone sort of promotes us effectively. I’m not denying it, and I’m not confirming it. What I am doing is trying to see if it works in my own case. That’s because each and every author has a different personality, and a different audience or readership, and a different set of goals both financial and artistic for the work.

Publishing shorts on an experimental bssis.

For this experiment, we take stories out of our folder, polish them up, get a free, copyright-free, royalty-free marketing image, an ISBN number, which are free here in Canada, and take some time to make an eye-catching ‘cover’ for it. Then we publish on Lulu, Amazon, Smashwords, and through Smashwords it will ultimately go into all the other distribution channels such as iTunes, B & N, Kobo, Diesel, etc. I’ll worry about Google books another time.

The rationale for this experiment is simple. I see other people, virtually all of whom are using pen-names of one sort or another, and they’re publishing all sorts of shorts on different sales platforms. Yes, Lawrence Block does it too, and everyone knows him. But I cannot and should not compare myself to Lawrence Block for just that reason.

Here is my new short story, 'The Jesus Christ Show,' available from Amazon, Lulu and Smashwords.

Why are we making the experiment?

I would like to know what sort of results unknown (or unidentified) authors are getting. I will publish two or three short stories in the next few weeks. This leads to another experiment: publish on Amazon or any platform at an appropriate time of day.


Basically, I plan on getting up on Friday morning and publishing a story. On Amazon, it takes about twelve hours to go live. Obviously you need to have everything all ready to go, including pic and blurb and relevant metadata. By anticipating this delay, I might get a story to pop up in horror, or science-fiction, (or whatever category,) during prime time Friday night. It will be interesting to see if this has any effect on the short story in question. Also, will this have any effect on overall sales, surely the only ones that matter to someone with a number of titles?

Shalako Publishing was conceived in February, 2010. It has involved a learning curve from day one, and that learning curve is continuous. You can’t learn anything if there is nothing there to be learned. So what do we do in an absence of facts?

We experiment, and find out for ourselves. And that way, we don’t have take anyone’s word for anything, besides, what might be a good answer for them, might not be such a good answer for us.

We are all different, and so are our needs, our gifts and our aspirations for our work. If you were wondering about the photo above, it relates to active blogging, and it shows our results. Clearly, on this one issue, we are doing something right. Can it be done better? When I come up with a idea, I will try to do just that.

Comments are always welcome.


  1. I posted a short for free and a longer one for $.99. The has had great success; not so the one that cost money.

  2. Yeah, my other short stories are in the 8-12,000 word range. But will people spend $0.99 to read a short of 2,500 words from an unknown author? There is really only one way to findo out.


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