Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
I had originally planned on writing a follow-up post to my last post "The Struggles Of A Young Writer ~ Learning To Cope With Changes In Writing Style And Maturity", thanks to a great comment from a friend on Goodreads, but then the internet showed off its sense of humor, and I decided that I simply had to write this post first.
This year, I started publishing the Knight Blood series, which could be labeled many things, but which I've come to think of as Paranormal/Urban Fantasy/Alternate Universe (I would say Paranormal Romance, but it's not really heavy in the traditional romance department; not that they have to be). It was an idea I've had in the back of my mind for a while, but it wasn't fully "realized" until I started writing it, and now I can say it's truly one of my favorite series to write...mainly because I love my secondary main character, my vampire named Zarrod, so much (I even wrote a book about him, too, which you can read now, as well). Anyway, sometime after Zarrod's story, Eternal Dark, was published, I made it free on Amazon, etc., to kind of introduce readers to the story...
Here is where I can offer a bit of publishing advice, from my learning experience -- not a mistake, because when it comes to business, I don't really believe in mistakes, only choices that were not as good as they could have been, which we can learn from. Eternal Dark went free for readers, and I got some reviews on it, and then I learned something I hadn't fully thought of before: Eternal Dark made a lot less sense, as a story, if the reader didn't read the original book, Midnight, first. It's still an enjoyable story, either way, but I personally believe it's better to read Midnight first, because it's more of an easy introduction into the Knight Blood world, and is technically the first book in the series. My reviews reflected this. Readers liked the story, but were a bit confused, as one would expect to be after reading the second book in a series, even if they still liked the book, and were intrigued to read more.
I definitely think there's a lesson in marketing to be learned here. Free books have worked greatly for me, because they draw readers in, and I think it's a nice way to read something by an author you may have never read before, without having to spend a lot of money -- sort of like how you would, at the bookstore, read a few chapters, or even half of a book, before you bought it. Plus, the marketplace is crowded. Not every book can be made free, of course, because, as an author, if you want to make a career out of writing, you have to get paid (and should, because writing is a lot of work, and a product just like anything else you might see in the store), but if you use it well, it can be a good marketing tool -- so long as you're smart about it, and think about the readers.
I'll admit, in putting Eternal Dark up as free, I was thinking both that it was a cool story, and that it was shorter than Midnight -- less work, in the long run, was being put up as free, instead of being paid for; I've come to think of free books as community service. Not only was this a tad bit selfish, but it was a bad business decision, in the end, and I've learned from it. It wasn't that I didn't put my best work out there, because I think Eternal Dark is a great story, and I had a lot of fun writing it, and it wasn't that I didn't want to give the readers something fun to read -- it was that I didn't use as smart a mind as I could have, concerning readers.
This is one of the difficulties with Indie publishing, I think: to draw yourself far enough out of your writing world to be able to market, and perform business tactics well. If you're published by a major company, they have a bit more control over what is released, and in what order, etc. They haven't written these books, and they aren't immersed in them, in the worlds contained within their pages. To a company, a story is simply money to be made, a product, but to the author, it is something important that they poured their soul into, as well as a product -- and it can be extremely hard to start thinking of your work as a product, rather than your brain child, or to start thinking of yourself as a businesswoman or man, instead of simply a writer.
In my case, length aside, Eternal Dark made perfect sense to me as a story, because I was already entrenched in my world -- and consequently, it made perfect sense to my BETAs, because they had already read Midnight -- but it didn't make as much sense to my readers who hadn't read Midnight, and therefore I "paid" for it with comments that, while they were good, were not as good as they may have been; still, I'm thankful for readers being honest with me, because it's helped me learn in this experience.
When it comes to publishing, once the writing is done, you have to think of your readers first, because they are your driving force; you have to take off your creative cap, and put your business cap on, to the best of your ability. Readers are the ones who will get behind you when you get flack, who will buy your books because they love your writing, who will send you those wonderful e-mails telling you just how much they love your writing. Not only is thinking of readers first smart business, but it's a good way to build a relationship with your readers, too, one of honesty and creativity.
...Anyway, back to the story of Midnight, and the Internet's humor.
Once I fully realized my "mistake", I set out to "fix" it. I pulled Eternal Dark from the free shelf on my ebook sites, and made Midnight free instead (heads up: as of writing this, they're both still free on Amazon!). I've done this before, and unfortunately, Amazon normally takes forever to match the prices from other sites (I really wish they had a free option, but they want you to be select with them), but this time, it only took a few weeks, if that. It was a large, large surprise to come home the afternoon previous to writing this, and realize that I had plenty of downloads of Midnight -- in less than a day! The Internet certainly does have a sense of humor -- or, maybe Amazon does, because I was expecting it to take longer than this for them to change the price, as before.
It's especially humorous, because in 2014, I'm going to be making some big changes to my website and books...but, more on that in weeks to come.
The moral of this story is: sometimes in life -- and certainly in publishing -- we make "mistakes", and there's nothing wrong with admitting them, or even trying to "fix" them. They teach us new things, and then we teach others the things we have learned, and so on and so forth. I've developed a new awareness of publishing through this, and it will carry me forward into 2014.
Here's to a new year, and new excitement on my part -- and on my reader's parts, too, I hope!
But, for now, please check out Midnight! The next book in the series, Weather, will be published this next year, and of course Eternal Dark is available, too. It's the readers that truly make the difference, so if you would please spread the word, and leave a review when you're done reading, it would be greatly appreciated!
Like I said above, Eternal Dark and Midnight both are free on Amazon (as of writing this), so here are links to both books:
Otherwise, you can find Midnight free on the following sites:
Thank you, and happy reading!