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Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Twenty-Eight: The Data Is A Lie!

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Ahoy, Mateys!

I know, I know, the Views are supposed to be on hiatus, but I just couldn’t let this one go. Read on, fearless warriors!

If you are a writer then you probably heard about Amazon sending out an email over the weekend. Yeah, it was a bit surreal, to say the least. A lot of propaganda and misdirection and all that other giant corporation stuff.

Chuck Wendig and Matt Wallace did a great job dissecting the email in their posts. You should go have a read. It was also covered by Time, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, and fifty trillion other online word pukers. (I include myself in the “word puker” category, so nobody get offended, alright? We’ve all had too much prose and ended up getting sick all over our stack of unread New Yorkers. No shame there.)

There is a lot of back and forth spittle and hissing between the Team Amazon authors and the Team Hachette authors. There is also a lot of stepping in the middle with T hands and a referee’s whistle telling everyone to chill and realize this has nothing to do with authors, but everything to do with mega corporations and profit.

I agree with a little on one side, a little on the other, and a whole lot of the middle.

But there is one thing I have yet to see anyone touch on that is really the absolute crux of this matter: Amazon’s ebook sales data.

Now, before you start pointing at the links to those blogposts, hear me out. I concede that several authors and reporters have mentioned that Amazon can easily be cherry picking their data and only showing what they want us all to see. I agree with that. Example (directly from Amazon’s email):

Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.

Good numbers, right? Maybe. Plenty of people have wondered how many ebooks sell at $10.99 or $11.99, but Amazon doesn’t release that info. Authors want the full numbers to analyze and that ain’t happening.

The problem is no one is realizing that the data they want means absolutely zero. You see, folks, the data Amazon releases to the public is rigged from the beginning. They could print their entire database and it makes no difference.

Why? Simple: Amazon controls what sells on Amazon.

Chew on that for a second.

Sure, people have free will and can buy whatever they want, but it has been proven time and time again that when Amazon markets something specifically that something sells like crazy. That means, if Amazon wants $9.99 ebooks to be the bestsellers then they can tweak their marketing, promotions, and search algorithms to make damn sure $9.99 ebooks sell more than other price points.

How about a metaphor/analogy!

A farmer sells apples. He has tons and tons of different apples. The guy grows it all, yo, from Red Delicious to Arkansas Black. This farmer is your go-to apple guy, right? So you head to his farm and he has barrels and barrels of all the different apples for sale out front for $9.99 a pound. Seems a little spendy, but you’re all “Gotta have my apples!” and you buy a couple pounds of this and a couple pounds of that then head on home for the apple enjoyment portion of life.

Now, are you the farmer’s only customer? Heck to the no! Lots of people dig this farmer’s apples so they go to his farm and see the barrels and barrels of $9.99 apples. Some people see that there are other barrels of apples tucked away in the barn behind the farmer, but only a couple of folks go check those out. Why bother hunting for other apples when you can get the yummy ones in front of you for $9.99? So, folks be buying some $9.99 apples and when the local news station comes by to do a happy, feel-good piece, they ask the farmer which apples sell the best.

“Oh, lots sell, but folks like the ones right here for $9.99 the most,” the farmer grins. “Who doesn’t like $9.99 apples?”

See where I’m going with this? There were other apples tucked away for different prices. I’m not saying those apples were better quality or worse quality, or even different apples, but they were shoved out of sight and out of mind by the farmer so all his customers saw were the $9.99 a pound barrels.

That’s what Amazon can do; they can make sure you, and everyone else, buy ebooks at the price point they want. And that is what makes their data worthless when proving anything regarding readers’ buying habits. You want to know what price readers want? Then get sales data from ALL the ebook retailers and compile that. Then you’ll have some true data and something to talk about.

Until then, all anyone is doing is pointing at the news clip of that farmer saying “Folks like the ones right here for $9.99 the most” and calling it cherry picking when the truth is there isn’t even a cherry in the bunch.

I’ll let y’all ponder that for a while. Good luck.

Cheers!

 

Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.

Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.

He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Mega,AntiBio, and the YA zombie novel Little Dead Man, as well as the forthcoming (October) Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).

 

Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Hiatus!

Captains ChairBlog

 

Ahoy, Mateys!

Yep, you read that title correctly. The blog will be on hiatus for a few weeks. Deadlines, am I right?

That and I’ll be taking the very first vacation my family has ever taken together. I shit you not. Sure, we’ve gone on “vacation”, but it has always been with extended family, to see extended family, to see friends, or for some specific reason or other.

This will be the first vacation where I’m with the wife and kids only. No one else. First time.

And we get to go see Vermont and Maine, which will be nice! Never been north of Pittsburgh, personally. On the East coast, at least. I grew up in Oregon, so I’ve been from BC to San Diego on the West coast. This should be fun!

But, taking this vacation means I’ll be behind with writing, so no time to bloggy blog until I get caught up. Looking like August or September. I’ll keep y’all posted!

Before I go let me thank each and every one of you for reading this blog, reading my books, and for just being awesome!

Rock on, rocking rockers! See ya in a few weeks!

 

Cheers!

Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Twenty-Seven: Everyone STFU!

Captains ChairBlog

 

Ahoy, Mateys!

Okay, time for everyone to shut the fuck up. Seriously. Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

What about?

Amazon V. Hachette.

Or, as I like to call it, “Two giants at war that don’t even care if you exist.”

They don’t. Unless you are a consumer. Then they care.

But as a consumer, you aren’t the one shouting back and forth over a line drawn by corporate behemoths. No, you’re a person going about your life each day, trying to make ends meet, worrying about bills, about groceries, about dust bunnies, about Timmy’s loose tooth, the fence that needs repairing, the car that needs an oil change, the stain on the carpet from that rage induced, homicidal oopsy doodle that happened last night.

As a consumer, you are living your life and not a damn thing has changed for you even though the author community has decided THERE WILL BE BLOOD because Amazon and the Hachette Group are pissing in the wind and seeing who can stand the back spray long enough.

So, dear consumer, engine of this greedocracy, you just keep on keepin’ on. This post isn’t for you.

Nope, it’s for all the writers that think their voices ARE IMPORTANT! Their voices MUST BE HEARD! Their voices MUST DROWN OUT ALL DISSENT! Their voices… Guess what? Your voices don’t mean jack shit. You are nothing in this war. Nothing. Stop kidding yourself that your blog posts, your Facebook posts, your Twitter posts, or any posts, have even one itsy bitsy influence on the outcome of this fight. That’s your self-inflated ego talking there.

These are multi-national, MASSIVE corporations that are at war over…uh…oh, right, they haven’t actually said officially.

That’s right: people are arguing over something that isn’t even defined. The Powers That Be don’t think you are important enough to be informed on what the fight is about. That’s how insignificant you are. You aren’t even worth a press release with bullet points.

Yet, from Patterson to Konrath, King to Howey, Eisler, Wendig, Stackpole, some other guy, that guy, this one here, a woman there, oh, there’s another woman, and that guy right there with his formatted ebook ready to make a million dollars- everyone has an opinion. An uninformed opinion. In a fight they haven’t been invited to.

You think I’m being flippant? I’m not. I’ve watched this happen in other industries.

In my former life I was a broker rep for one of the largest grocery sales and marketing agencies in the country. A billion dollar company. That’s billion with a “B”. Big company. And we worked for companies that were even bigger. Unilever/Best Foods, Kraft, Mars, Johnson & Johnson, Pepsico- you know, BIG companies.

Guess what?

They pulled this crap all the time.

Big companies get in fights with other big companies. Whether it’s a distribution argument or a tiff with a retailer, giant corporations draw lines in the sand every single day and go to war.

But you don’t see the guy on the mayonnaise line writing a blog post about the EVIL OF BIG CONDIMENTS! You don’t see the housewife in yoga pants screaming at the hippie girl that “BANANAS HAVE GONE UP TEN CENTS A POUND AND IT’S YOUR FAULT FOR NOT BELIEVING!” You don’t see the cashier at your local supermarket writing a scathing essay on how the moral compass of America is at stake because Doritos are no longer on sale for two bags for $7, but are now two bags for $8.

Why? Because it doesn’t matter what the little folk like us say. It doesn’t. These Leviathans have an agenda and they are fighting over that and that alone. And as consumers, we know that. We know that we can scream until we are blue in the face, but it ain’t gonna lower the price of them bananas. That’s life, y’all.

Yet, authors insist that by fighting with each other- Stop. Hold on. Let me make this clear.

AUTHORS ARE FIGHTING WITH EACH OTHER. NOT A SINGLE AUTHOR IS FIGHTING AGAINST THE MEGAMONEYCONGLOMAHEMOTHS THAT ARE AT THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM.

If there even is a problem. I’m pretty sure there’s an entire political party that would argue that this is how it is supposed to work. This is free market warfare, baby. LET IT ALL BURN!

But no, instead of  banding together and looking these dragons in the eyes, writers have taken sides. Or pretend not to take sides when they really have taken a side. It doesn’t matter, really. No matter what “side” you are on you’re just fleas on two dogs trying to rip each other’s throats out. The same two dogs that will end up humping in the alley when it’s all done because that’s what dogs do. You’re just a flea, you wouldn’t understand. Humping or fighting, it’s all an END OF THE WORLD EARTHQUAKE to you.

I refuse to be a flea. Fuck this stupidity. Just fuck it.

Oh, and you know what else? The bickering here amongst the plebs is nothin’ but free press for the giants. Why put out statements when they have a hundred voices doing it for them?

Yep, free press. You think you are changing anything by writing how much you love licking Amazon asshole? Or how much you prefer walking with your nose up in the air all day because you have a “REAL” publishing deal? You aren’t changing shit, except the news feed on Facebook. You are doing the work for  your corporate overlords. You are their bitch.

Let me say that again: You. Are. Their. Bitch.

So, shut the fuck up. Just shut it. Zip it. Close it. Keep that trap closed, please and thank you.

With that said, I’m done with this crap. I’m done reading anymore blog posts about how I’m supposed to think and feel about something that really has nothing to do with me. I have bills to pay and grass to mow, a spouse to love and frickin’ children to raise. No, what I’m going to do right now is write the second novel in my medieval space fiction (space opera) series.

Because that’s what I do. I write books.

Maybe you, Author With Opinions About Shit All, should get back to that too. Since, you know, what consumers/readers do care about is getting a great story that they can escape into so they forget about the bills, the healthcare, that political party that only loves money, the cost of bananas, those damn yoga pants, and mayonnaise. Channel your energy into your job and stop doing the work of corporate PR firms, okay?

Word.

Oh, and Mega is on sale for $,99 from Severed Press until like midnight tonight or something. Go buy that shit.

 

Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.

Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.

He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Mega, AntiBio, and the YA zombie novel Little Dead Man, as well as the forthcoming (October) Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).

Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Twenty-Five: Starla Huchton

Captains ChairBlog

Ahoy, Mateys!

Once again, I have a guest! I would like you all to welcome Starla Huchton to the Captain’s Chair!

Want to know a little about Starla? YES, YOU DO!

A geek of all trades, Starla Huchton has been crafting stories in various genres since 2007. Her first novel, The Dreamer’s Thread was released as a full cast audiobook podcast, becoming a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards. After releasing short fiction of steampunk, noir fantasy, and other varieties, she released the first three books of the Sci-Fi Romance Endure series in 2013. All three books of the Evolution series will be released in 2014, as well as a Steampunk Fantasy novel, Master of Myth (the Antigone’s Wrath series, book 1), which was the first place winner of the Crested Butte Writers’ contest, The Sandy, in 2012.
When not writing, Starla trains three Minions, a black lab, and a military husband whilst designing book covers for independent authors and publishers at Designed By Starla.

Now, how’s about we get into the post itself? It’s a good one and one every author should read and pay attention to. Enjoy!

***

The Digital Marketing Mystery

At Balticon on Memorial Day weekend, I spent the entirety of Saturday on panels talking about marketing stuff. I knew from the previous year that so much of that audience had never heard of some of the marketing techniques that were old news when I started writing in the romance genre. After last year’s obvious knowledge gap, it became my goal to share some of these digital marketing tools so that other authors might be able to take advantage of some of them. As others have helped me on my authorial journey, I’m compelled to pass this on to others, sharing knowledge as it was shared with me. Because I’m blessed with knowing so many fantastic authors, they’re generous enough to let me tiptoe onto their platforms sometimes to do this. Thanks, Jake!

That said, here are a few things I’ve done in the last year that could easily be transferred or modified to fit any genre of book:

1) Teaser Tuesday. Every week, authors share little snippets of works-in-progress, upcoming releases, or existing releases, usually under the #TeaserTuesday hashtag. Sometimes it’s an entire first chapter, sometimes it’s a single scene, sometimes only a paragraph. This can be done on a blog post or Facebook or Google+ for longer excerpts, but for something shorter for Twitter, there’s the handy dandy…

2) Teaser picture. This is a fun visual that romance writers use to whip their readers into a slight frenzy. This is exceptionally true for follow-on books in a series. For romance, you see a lot of hot guy/girl photos, but not always. Essentially all you need is an interesting image that’s applicable to your story and a short snippet of text from it, along with pertinent book information (title, author, release date if it’s not out, or a sale price if it’s on special somewhere). Even if you’re not a Photoshop expert, there are free and easy tools to accomplish this. Canva.com has free backgrounds and tons of other tools to do this on the cheap, but if you’re uploading your own image to the background, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHTS TO THE PHOTO. Just because you can find an image for free on Google, doesn’t give you the right to use it in an advertisement.

Here are examples of my teaser pictures, including one I did for a scavenger hunt for a Facebook event using canva.com for something quick (last one).

Tired blonde girl lying on the beach

Muscular man in shadow

scavengerhunt

3) Facebook events. Authors and bloggers will create events on Facebook for new releases, cover reveals, book release anniversaries, or even reaching however many likes on their Pages. This is an excellent opportunity to get your name out in front of someone else’s audience who might be interested in your work. Now, I don’t mean you show up to these things and start spamming the event with buy links. The way it works best is if you’re offered a “guest host” slot. These typically range from 10-20 minutes and they fly by fast! When I participate in these events, I work up a few posts to share in advance. One, an intro post about me and my connection to the event’s creator. Two, a “contest” where I post a game of some sort (since I’m pushing superheroes right now, I make it a fun question like asking about favorite superhero pickup lines or what superpower they would want), from which a random winner is chosen from the comments to win a prize from me (typically an ebook or something like bookmarks or magnets or all of the above). Third is a post with a link to the book I’m currently promoting, with something engaging to say to the audience. There are two things that will engage an audience with almost certainty: humor and things on the steamy side. Unless you’re writing romance, I’d probably go with humor. Fourth (if there’s time for it), I post a teaser picture (see above), tailored to the audience. The last thing I post is a thanks to the host and a link to somewhere the attendees can find me, usually my Facebook Author Page. Keep in mind that you should plan to be there both before and after your time slot to get the audience interested before you promote, and hang around to respond to comments when you’re done. I do these things because I enjoy them, but readers love getting to know the creators of the books they’re reading. It can be time-consuming, but if they’re emotionally invested in you, they’re more likely to give your book a chance.

4) Connect with other authors. These people can help you grow your audience by sharing your releases, covers, and other interesting things related to you. I’m not telling you to find these people for the singular purpose of leeching off of their audience (this is way gross, so don’t), but if you’re genuinely interested in who they are, what they do, and how they do it, spend time getting to know them. Make friends. If they like you, and they think your work would appeal to their audience, they’re far more likely to lend you a hand. The key here is building a relationship. It’s important. And always, always be on the lookout for any ways you can help them, too (both in advance and in return). Lift as you climb. Share knowledge. I can’t tell you how huge a difference one new connection can make, and you never know who will see your name. Make sure your first impression is a good one. Basically, just be nice. People are stronger together than on their own.

5) Find something of wide interest and tie it to your books. I post a lot of superhero stuff (it helps I’m interested in it anyway), to the point where a lot of my author/reader/blogger friends have started tagging me for anything and everything superhero related on Facebook and Twitter. I’m not complaining about being branded as “the superhero girl”, especially as that pertains to the series I’m releasing the last of in July, but it makes me chuckle every time. It doesn’t really feel “gimmicky” to me as I honestly like the shared things, so if you go that route, don’t force it. If you’re writing an entire book on the premise of futuristic tech, or horse breeding, or a certain historical period, chances are you’re interested in that anyway. Share the odd things you research. Whatever that interest is, make it yours, and let everyone know about it.

Those are the biggest things I’ve done in the last year that have had real, measurable results. It’s basically all about engaging and interacting with people. Approaching them humbly and presenting something interesting or funny will get you far.

And don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’d be amazed at what the people around you know. I’m always up for sharing what I know with others. You can find me any time, in any of these places:

My blog: http://www.starlahuchton.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/riznphnx
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Starla-Huchton-Author-Page/255657227797465

***

And there we have it, folks! That’s some solid advice and examples of what can work. Every author is different, and every author’s circle of fans and readers is different, but in this day and age it’s best to be knowing a little more about the digital domain of author/book marketing. Try some of this out and see how it works for you.

Cheers!

Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.

Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.

He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the forthcoming YA zombie novel Little Dead Man, and Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).

 

Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Twenty: Time Is Not On My Side

 

Captains ChairBlogAhoy, Mateys!

As a writer I have control over so many aspects of my job it’s incredible. I make my schedule, decide what novels I will write next, create and destroy worlds daily, have the opportunity to attend the kids’ school events, run errands, write blog posts, tweet, FB post, and all that jazz.

Yet, even with all of that control, there is one thing, no matter how successful I end up being, that I can’t control: time.

Time will always be finite and unrelenting. Can’t stop the clock, right?

So, as I look at my schedule over the next three months I realize that unless I can find an extra day in the week, I won’t have the time I need for things such as a weekly blog post. Yep, gonna have to take a step back from the Captain’s Chair. Well, not really, since I write in this chair for hours a day. I’m just gonna have to gear down and go full steam ahead on novels from now until August.

And that is where you, fearless writer, come in!

I’m looking for guest posts!

You have an idea, experience, gripe, insight, and/or stupid human trick? Then let me know! I’m looking for good, strapping writerly types to fill some cyberspace each and every week from now until the end of summer. Or end of winter, for you folks down under.

Just shoot me an email at jakebiblefiction@gmail.com and let me know your post idea and when you can have it to me by. I look forward to all of the awesomeness!

Now the parameters: I want balanced posts. If you feel the need to skewer one type of publishing or writing or idea or whatever then move along, please. I SAID MOVE ALONG! Passion is good, but closed mindedness is not. Feel free to speak your mind. I’m all about minds that speak. Just don’t be a dick. Also, and this is important, the post needs to relate to the art/biz/insanity of writing. That’s kinda key. Other than that the sky is the limit!

So email me, bitches! Send me your wise, wise words. I’m all ears! Or eyes. Whatever…

Cheers!

 

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.

Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.

He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the forthcoming YA zombie novel Little Dead Man, and Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).

 

 

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