I'm doing an eBook eXperiment!!!!! And I am documenting my entire journey on this blog....and I want you to come with me.
Disclaimer: Before I get started, let me say one thing. I wholeheartedly BELIEVE in traditional publishing. I have many friends in this industry (editors, agents, publicist, authors, and self published authors). And to be totally honest, if traditional publishing had worked for me, I may not have thought about ebooking on my own. Why? because I have always wanted to see my books in print on a book shelf, do book signings, and meet with a big editor in NYC over tea. By me doing an ebook eXperiment, I am not making any statement or judgement AGAINST traditional publishing or FOR indie publishing. This will not be a debate. Just another documented journey. I support indie publishing as well as physical books and would never want to see bookstores or libraries go away, yet I have always supported self publishing as an option because it is a viable one for some people. I am doing this as a challenge and experiment to see if someone who was on the traditional path can do something different that what was originally expected.
But this is not going to be me plugging an ebook to you..... this is an eXperiment.
The difference?? I'm going to document EVERY single thing I do from a setup, launch, cover, marketing, advertising (minimal) and tell you my decision making process from a marketing perspective. I will even keep you in the loop with the sales so we can see what works and what doesn't and how well it does or doesn't.
In this eXperiment - there will be no pretenses. No secrets. I'm pulling back the curtain and digging in to see what can be done with ebooks. I hope to interview ebook authors to get the scoop and find out what works for them and learn from their successes. They don't get enough credit because ebooking is hard! It takes alot of work.
I'm going to share my thought process and muddle my way through to see if someone on the traditional path can make this work. Sure, some authors with established names and published books do well and then are some authors are ebooking through top agencies that provide marketing. But statistics show that 80% of ebooks sell less than 1,000 copies? What is the secret?
I'll pick up where I left off last week...
To ebook or not? That is the question!
A few months ago, after my agent and I parted, a few of my author friends said "Why don't you just ebook it?"
Well - there are so many questions I had to answer:
Will it cheapen my book?
Will everyone will think I'm not good enough to sell traditional?
What if it doesn't sell?
What if editors think I'm a loser and ban me from the print world?
What if agents think I'm a bust and never give me a chance?
What if all my followers unfollow and think I suck egg?
What if my marketing background doesn't work and I look like a complete and utter fool?
I know what you are thinking - sounds like a lot of ego to me....EXACTLY!
My answer now: who cares! I mean, let's be totally honest here, it's not like me doing all the right things has got me sailing through this industry! After my summer setback, I'm back to where I was 2 years ago. Starting a new book, no agent, and back at the querying process.
The books I love that I've worked hard on for years didn't go all the way. Sure it sucks, but in my defense - they did come real damn close. But like my dad always says. "Close is not always far enough."At least not for me.
Because of all that - my self-inflated ego left the building a while ago and to be honest, HE is what causes most of my anxiety. HE causes most of the problems. HE needs to go on a permanent vacation.
And, I'll be totally honest at the risk of losing followers today, my EGO has unfairly (and silently) judged or questioned others. Those who may have ebooked before, those who may have stepped forward and then back like me, those who lost agents, those who have not sold. EGO would whisper in my head, "maybe they are not good enough? That won't happen to you." (Yeah, I told you EGO was not a nice person and I wholeheartedly apologize to you and the universe for those unfair thoughts and behaviors. Trust me, he won't be around any longer.)
So, now there's nowhere to go but up... right? And to be honest, I was not up for ebooking for the questions I listed above. Until a friend said this to me (so it's her fault if I fail ;) "if you can get a top agent for two years and go to acquisitions more than once - you're good enough."
You know what? They are right. A lot of publishing is being at the right place at the right time with the right project.What gets published is not always the best rising to the top. I know that now.
Now that EGO has left for Tahiti (hey, he gets somewhere nice because -after all -has protected my self esteem for so long too) - I thought through some of the pros:
Maybe I could help others decide if it is right for them
Maybe i can see if marketing "word of mouth" can really sell books.
Where do you get the most benefit?
What constitutes high quality?
Maybe I'll get a few bucks in my pocket.
I'll get my book out sooner
Why not - its edited?
How does marketing differ in traditional vs indie?
Ultimate question: What do I have to lose? Nothing that hasn't already been lost. Could it hurt - I don't think so. Could it help? Maybe. Maybe Not. But I won't know if I try.
Now, to be frank, I decided to do an ebook about a month ago and was going to do all of this under a secret pseudonym for all the reasons I listed above and to test the waters without anyone knowing. That way, if I failed, no one would ever need to know. Problem is from a marketing perspective and business perspective, it just didn't make sense. My fake self had no online friends, no platform, no contacts in the industry. And nobody was going to support that person. Not to mention, I am just NOT a good liar. And yes - that level of honesty gets me in a lot of trouble so I'm not sure its a good thing - but deceiving people is not in my blood.
That leads me to my conversation with my beautiful friends and CPs Megan, Elana, Katie, Lindsey, and Kimberly (and a couple agents) - who I feel have different views of the industry, are in different stages, and who I trust for different reasons. Talking about pros, discussing cons, emailing what-ifs, bugging them with the same questions they answered the day before...if it wasn't for their support, I would not be putting myself out here like this....and to be honest....
I'm scared my feelings will be hurt. That I'll lose friends.
I'm scared my feelings will be hurt. That I'll lose friends.
Coming up with the experiment
Last week, I was talking with Katie on the phone still pondering using the pseudonym and she simply said: "Why not blog about it? I've always wondered how to do an ebook. Just put out your fears and do an experiment and talk about the marketing and decision making process that goes into it."
Could I do that? Put out all my fears of failure and "not knowing" and be okay with it. Am I brave enough? All those brave indie authors put themselves out there all the time. Why is it harder in the traditional sense - I don't know.
Then I realized, so many traditional authors have talked to me about ebooking over the last 2 years including editors and agents. I've gotten emails from readers on questions about ebooking and ebook marketing. I've been asked by established authors for advice on ebook marketing and by indie authors how to best market ebooks. It's such a new and viable place for books and not a lot of people know what to do with it or how to do it. And it's hard for writers on the traditional path to make a change. It's not what we worked for or expected and making that switch is hard.
And for those of you who know me, if I can find a way to feel like I'm helping other people, then I feel better about doing something for myself. Call it codependence - but I am not one to do things just for me.
So starting today, for all of you who are curious about eBooking and have had the questions I've heard or had over the last 2 years. Can you balance traditional publishing goals with indie publishing goals? Is it viable? Can you make money? How do indie authors do it right? Is it hard to get buzz around it? What is the best way to do it? What is the price point?
I promise to share everything I encounter with you. All the bumps and milestones along the way including my failures, my challenges, and even the financial aspect around it. Even get in some authors and experts in the indie world to teach us what works. It's time we sought out their advice.
Can I be the next Amanda Hocking? Probably not.
Statistics show that in 2010, ebooks sales were only 10% of the market. Unfortunately, many of those only sell about 100 books. Only a small percentage ever sell over 1,000 books. Earlier this year, PW put out an article with eBook sales number sand you can see that even bestsellers can only sell so much.
So eBooking is a very tough market. It's not an author's easy way out. If you don't put the time into marketing, I'm guessing/assuming your ebook won't fly. So to just put out an ebook and then sit back and watch it - is not the way. Indie authors work 24/7 on marketing their books. Something many traditional authors don't do or don't know how to do.
So here I am, using my lovely little book, Untraceable, (that I love) and my marketing background to try out this little project. All in the name of research and a challenge for myself. A way to find some light in this process and see if I can push forward through adversity.
Worse that could happen? Anyone who knows me knows I go straight to the worst case scenario here first....
I could fail and be a laughing stock of the Internet, indie people will hate me, I'll sacrifice a book I love along with any future possibilities, ruin my reputation (though it be very puny) in the industry and as a marketing person, lose friends, and be banished to the island of the publishing fails.
But I just decided if that happens, I'll just vanish and come back secretly under that fake persona I've been creating these past few months ;) No one will ever know its me and I'll just start over. I've done it before and I can do it again.
Best case? I usually never go here but I will for discussion purposes....
I end up the next Amanda Hocking (which is a long shot and the chances of happening are zip.) I mean statistically, she is the JK Rowling of eBooks. Sure she sold 500,000 copies over a year period but many don't know - that was because of 9 books she wrote during that time, she never slept, blogged at 4am, and doesn't have kids. Though, she did work hard at a FT time job when she started - so that counts as having 1/2 of a kid (at least 1/2 of mine) . I'm NOT diminishing her success AT ALL - I've followed her blog since she started querying agents before she ebooked - and trust me - she's a sweet and honest genius in her own right who has always worked harder than most, been honest, and also very grateful for her journey. I'm just saying the average person can't write that fast or stay up that late - esp with kids! :)
So, if I go midroad, what could I get?
I might make a little money (and to be frank I could use it to justify my "writing hobby"to my family and friends who probably think I'm a washed up executive who freeloads off her British husband under the disguise of taking care of kids) - even if it brings in $100, it's more than I make from my writing now. I could make some new friends in the indie market and help them market some of their wonderful books. And, most importantly, I could possibly help other people figure out how to succeed. I could take all my negative energy and put it into something positive. Create a challenge for myself.
Doesn't sound that awful anymore. Does it?
It's purely a way for me to move forward and test the waters.
So here I am: scared, excited, hopeful, yet realistic about this experiment.
So please, come back and follow me. Let me know if you have friends that have succeeded at ebooking that can share ideas with us. Let your writer friends know about this little eXperiment I'm trying so they can join in the discussion.
I've including my upcoming topics for the week to the top right corner so you can see the journey I am on...and what is coming up.
Leave me your thoughts, comments, or even the questions you want me to address!