As of today, my novel World Series of Murder is available in three formats, eBook, author-narrated audio, and good ol’ dead tree. But your choices don’t stop there. Just in the audio you get to pick MP3 download, MP3 CD or audio CD. And you can order some or all versions at amazon.com, spokenwordinc.com, audible.com, and who knows where else. The only place you for sure can’t order it is my website, because I can’t be stocking all these different products. I’ve kind of decided to surrender a share of the income and let someone else do that heavy lifting. There’s a bigger problem I’m trying to solve. The stigma of the self-published author.
THE EBOOK COVER
A few years ago I was a novelist with a publisher and high hopes. If The California Roll didn’t exactly sink like a stone, it sank like something not much lighter. As a consequence of that or not (one wants to blame the market, recession, space aliens) I am presently bereft of publisher and must therefore self-publish or self-perish. Question: Must I also carry around the feeling of having been cashiered out of legit print? And is that just my perception, or is it the market’s perception as well?
I’m trying to sell legitimacy, I know I am. I see the audio version of WSOM as not just an extra revenue stream but also supporting the notion that this is a “real” book, and not some self-published castaway. Of course in a sense it is exactly a self-published castaway. I wrote it in 1998 and 1999, serializing chapters bi-monthly in Poker Digest magazine. It’s not a bad ride, but it’s an early effort, and would likely not see light of day except under these particular market circumstances: Anyone can be a novelist, even those who already are. I have a lot of trove on my hard drive, and it’s time I found out if it’s even a modestly treasury trove.
THE AUDIO BOOK COVER
The angle I’m pushing hard with the audio book is author-narrated. I think there’s value in having writers read their own work, and I think there’s a listeners’ niche there, too. While a professional voice may be more highly polished, there’s something to be said for the passion the writer brings to the work. I know I put nuance into the audio — spin, if you like — that no pro would, simply because I know the book to such deep depth. I think that kind of spin has audience appeal. Well, we’ll find out. There’s no denying that I love the sound of my own voice; I’m hoping others will, too, because I got a huge kick out of narrating the thing, and I want it to sell well enough that I get to do more. My partner in this is Spoken Word Inc, purveyors of fine audio books plus mine.
So now we have an audio book supporting the eBook, and the project is starting to have presence, a little heft. The eBook validates the audio and the audio validates the eBook and why I’m so dead set on validation I don’t know but I am, so that’s why I decided to add the print version, too. I used CreateSpace, which is Amazon’s print-on-demand (POD) operation, primarily so I could distribute through Amazon. It’s not the best deal out there — I make literally only pennies per POD copy — but it’s on Amazon so it doesn’t really need to be anywhere else. In fact, I think it’s a marketing boon to be able to say, look, no matter which format you want, in this one place you can find them all. Here in 2011 if you can’t find your way to Amazon, you can’t find your way anywhere.
THE PRINT COVER
For the POD artwork, I used front cover art for which I paid a modest amount and hand-made the back cover with free available tools. Going forth on other projects I’ll likely not be paying for art or for formatting. That stuff is a pain in the ass, and I have no aptitude or passion for it, but if I’m going to embrace this do-it-yourself ethos I’m going to do it myself all the way. I hope to make Vorhausian presentation part of the sell.
With all of this said, wouldn’t it help if the book were, you know, good? Well, I haven’t released any book so far that somebody didn’t like, not even The Strip Poker Kit, which sold, I know for a fact, four copies. This book’ll work for some readers, but I have no illusions. It’s one’s from the trove. I’ve certainly sharpened my skills since I wrote it. Can I say it doesn’t matter? Can I at least think it? My model now is product, product, product. I need to release as many titles as possible and hope that they reinforce one another and cross-sell. If I have a sufficient number of penny-wide profit streams, well then that’s dollars and that starts to be a living. My trove is part of my product; at this point I have to throw it out the window and see if it lands. I think the audio version lands best. The prose has some innocence to it, some enthusiasm for itself, and I think I captured that enthusiasm in my read.
Well, we’ll find out. So far my average monthly get from Amazon sales is a whopping $26.75. I have nowhere to go but up.
More later, -jv