Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Changing Marketing Plan

Honestly, it's killing me to sit on a nearly finished book without releasing it, and sometimes I wonder if it feels like a tease to the readers of this blog. So I thought I'd talk about my original marketing plan and how and why it's changed over the last year. Which will explain why I continue to sit on my first book.

About a year ago I started reading an excellent blog on self-publishing, A Newbie's Guide To Publishing. Follow it. It's excellent, and I'm stealing most of what Konrath talks about as I make this journey.

Soon after I started reading the blog, the characters of Paul and Dafydd sort of dropped into my head and said, "Write us!" How could I refuse the request of two incredibly hot guys, one of whom was a vampire? I thought this through. The main keys to success in self-publishing seemed to be:

1. Have lots of books
2. Sell them cheaply
3. Have a great cover and description

I decided I could do that. But I didn't have a huge pile of unpublished novels sitting on my hard drive. I had two, both of which required as much work as writing new books. And I had these two guys bugging me to write their story.

So I figured I could cheat. Instead of writing full novels, I'd start by writing novellas of about 15K-25K words. I'd publish them for .99 each and try that. Over time, I figured I'd graduate to full novels. I'd even decided to rewrite one of the existing unpublished novels as a Paul and Dafydd story. I was going to trumpet it as "Paul and Dafydd's first full length novel!"

The Case of the Haunted Vampire cooperated nicely, coming in at about 18K words. I thought it would take me another six months to write two more like it and then I'd be ready to release.

Then Amazon added a new royalty structure. In addition to the 35% plan, they started offering a 70% plan. The kicker? The book had to be priced between $2.99 and $9.99. But how could I resist a doubled royalty?

Back the drawing board. I'd always planned to release the first book for free at Smashwords and for .99 at Amazon (indie authors can't offer books for free on Amazon). So, I decided, instead of releasing each novella alone, I'd bundle them at two or three per "book." That would justify the $2.99 price. I'd still release Haunted Vampire for free/.99 as the introduction to the series.

No problem. Write two (or maybe now three) more stories, and I could publish!

But The Case of the Lost Werewolf Puppy didn't get the memo. It's at almost 30K words now, and I think the story is about half done. And, as I was writing it, I realized I need to make some significant changes to Haunted Vampire, but I want to finish Lost Werewolf Puppy first and make all the changes at one time. That's the biggest advantage to holding the first book in a series until finishing the second. Dafydd has changed jobs from a part-time stage magician to a multi-level marketer (in addition to being a warlock). Now I can go back and make that change to both books. I'll probably also see if I can lengthen Haunted Vampire by about 5K-10K words. I suspect I can add a few scenes to make the book stronger.

Long story short. Plans change.

But to reward my loyal readers of this blog, next week I'm going to post an excerpt from Haunted Vampire. There was a scene that all my beta readers particularly liked, and I think it gets across the feel of the series very well. Look for "the incredible shrinking vampire" next week!

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