Note to my readers: Jason Sizemore, Founder/Editor of the award winning sci-fi and dark fantasy publication Apex Books (and digest, magazine etc..) as well as the instigator of The Zombie Feed which publishes high quality work about chickens. I know that it seems silly to say that a magazine publishes high quality work when I’m obviously fond of them. I didn’t say Apex publishes high quality work because it can be taken as a given. Zombie story outlets are another matter. Most- maybe 99%- are utter trash. I sold a story to one of these markets once and after seeing grammar errors of their earlier anthologies I had to demand the rights to my story back. The Zombie Feed is not like these, it has Apex level quality, and Apex has become one of the darlings of the pro-level genre fiction world. (I’m not kidding- I had a conversation in Austin with one of the founders of Cyber Punk and he was all about his Apex) So that’s my pitch. As a reader of this blog you are contractually obligated to root for me in my personal publishing odyssey and as I have been published in both of the aforementioned markets, you must now do your part and read on. Lifted, without permission, directly from Jason Sizemore’s blog- A Writer’s Vanity– here is, well, here it is…
According to Bloomberg in this article dated December 21, 2010, Amazon was expected to sell 8,000,000 Kindles during the year. To be honest, I bet that figure will be greater.
Then there are all those iPads flying off the shelf. The nook color is a pretty damn cool reader and has a growing fan base. I even know a few people who read books on their smart phones (they are tougher than me… I just don’t have the eyes for it).
Even with so many new units and new eBook buyers, as a publisher, I find it a challenge to keep with the eBook rat race. For better or for worse, the self-publishers have sent a tidal wave of product to readers, most of it priced at 99 cents. This has created a new business advertising model where word of mouth, quality, and more traditional advertising outlets have less of an impact. The new model relies a lot more on building a platform (nowadays, it is all about what you have to offer to a reader in terms of expertise and less so in terms of entertainment), blind luck, and gaming the system.
The platform is something the author (or in my case, publisher) is something that you can control. The Apex blog is what we offer to readers and hope it serves expertise when it comes to things such as writing, genre matters, editing, etc. My personal blog my platform is that of a publisher and editor. A marketing friend of mine explained it like this: “Figure out what you can bring to people that most others can’t. That’s the stuff you blog about. That’s the stuff that will build an audience.” Naturally, there are dozens of other factors… timeliness of posts (personally, I’m poor at this), writing ability, authority, and so on. You hope what you do draws enough attention.
Gaming the system comes next. You offer a taste for 99 cents (perhaps the first book of a series or a novella). You talk a bunch of people into reviewing the book on Amazon. You write your product description in the manner that current marketing studies shows is most effective for producing a sale. You make sure your book cover title and author name can be seen on the book’s product page and in search results. You smartly tag your book (and talk a bunch of people to do the same). You try to place your book in less competitive bestselling book categories. Then you organize an Amazon sales ranking drive to get yourself placed on the bestseller lists (once there, it has been proven by studies that your sales will increase due to the visibility… blind luck will dictate how long or successful your stay on the list will be).
Or you pay $400 to sites like KindleNation to be listed in their newsletter and hope it generates enough interest.
Or you become like a tent revival preacher and appeal to a crowd desperately seeking validation (a high percentage of self-publishers) and build your audience.
Or you mimic a popular mainstream series and appeal to a crowd wanting more of the same.
I’m not making judgement on those who have successfully gamed the system. I tip my hat to them for having the smarts and resources to do so.
Heck, I’m even making a play at the game. 🙂
Apex has announced a “Kindle Ranking Drive” for Sara M. Harvey’s The Convent of the Pure. I’ve priced the book at 99 cents, I’ve tinkered with the book’s Amazon page, gotten some reviews posted, added some tags, built this blog using my editing/publishing ‘expertise’ platform, and am now asking *you* to help me game the system.
Between 9am and 9pm EST today Apex will be doing its damnedest to land The Convent of the Pure either in the top #1000 Kindle titles or in the top 100 of some bestseller lists.
To participate, all you have to do is buy a copy of The Convent of the Pure from Amazon for your Kindle reader or Kindle app. All it takes is 99 cents.