Tag: Twenty-Somewhere Page 2 of 11

The Great Pricing Adventure

A few people have asked me for updates on the “Great Pricing Adventure” that began when Amazon priced my ebook Twenty-Somewhere at the whopping sum of $0. (For the background story, see: “On ‘selling’ like hotcakes.”)

During the 4 days my book was free, about 16,400 copies were downloaded. The title peaked at #9 on the Kindle Free list, and #178 on the Kindle Paid list. For a few hours, it was also featured on the Kindle eBooks homepage next to the Steve Jobs biography, The Paris Wife, and The Hunger Games. That was a trip.

(Yes, it was mistakenly categorized as Nonfiction. I have tried to correct the listings within the author dashboard, but so far I’m not seeing any changes.)

During the 10 days that followed, another 1,000 or so copies were downloaded. Some of those sales were at the regular price of $2.99, while some were at a new price-match of 99 cents. In both cases, I received 70% royalties.

Edited to add: There was also a much higher number of returns during this period. Why anyone would return a free book, I’m not really sure… But some returns were due to people learning about my book from lists of freebies, buying without looking, and then later realizing they were charged either 99 cents or $2.99 for it.

I would say that after that two-week frenzy, sales have dropped off significantly. But they are still higher (by about 10 times) than what they were prior to all this. From what I’ve heard, I would expect sales to continue dropping until they are back to their previous level.

(But I plan to keep my ebook at the sale price of 99 cents through the holiday season, so that may help me ride the wave until next year. Or not. We’ll see.)

Though my earnings will help cover my latest car repairs and upcoming gift shopping, the money is not nearly as important to me as the reader responses that I’ve gotten. There are a few new reviews at both Amazon and GoodReads, and I received several emails that still bring a smile to my face.

It was also interesting to work on my current manuscript while receiving feedback on past writing. I think I have pretty thick skin, but getting several bad ratings/reviews in a row is bound to give anyone pause, and there was one day in particular where it sort of got me down. But I bounced back, and overall I found that responses of any kind motivated me to work harder.

Assuming there are any noteworthy developments, I will continue to post about my experiences with this epublishing experiment. In the meantime, I’m eager to finish and query my next project, something for which I actually have intentions and expectations. (Perhaps too many, haha.)

On a related note, Meghan pointed me to an article about another instance where Amazon price-matched a book to $0. But in this case, the author wasn’t happy. Mainly because the offering that Amazon matched was actually only a 3-chapter preview at Barnes & Noble, not the entire book. Oops.

While I completely sympathize with how frustrating that experience must have been for the author, I have to say that most people I’ve encountered have had more trouble in the other direction: trying to get Amazon to make their book free. For all the things iTunes does poorly with the iBookstore, their price controls are robust and immediate, and I think Amazon could learn a lot from that.

(In all other ways, I think Amazon does it better. But to their credit, the iBookstore does appear to be learning and adapting.)

The unhappy author in that article is supposedly arguing with Amazon, trying to get royalties from all the free downloads. The problem is that many of those downloads would never have been sales. That’s why I certainly don’t feel like I “lost” thousands of dollars from this — in fact, I know that I have gained a number of readers and sales that I never would have had otherwise. Going free is a well-known (though not always well-liked) marketing technique in the world of ebooks.

And related to that, I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about ebook piracy. However, my thoughts never really came together in a way that I felt was blog-able. Thankfully, The Intern posted her thoughts on it, and I felt like she had read my mind. Check out her honest and not too judgmental post, “The Kindle swindlers.”

On "selling" like hotcakes

On Friday night, I was hanging out at a friend’s place and decided to hop on his wifi and check on sales of Twenty-Somewhere at Amazon. The count was 13, as it had been for a few days. Disappointing, but okay.

Twenty minutes later I went home, got on my laptop, read emails, checked sales again. (Yes, it’s addicting.) Now the count was 113. I laughed.

“What’s so funny?” Andy asked.

100 sales in 20 min? Yeah right. “There’s some sort of crazy error on Amazon,” I said.

I refreshed the page, expecting the error to be corrected. Instead: 145.

Blink blink. What on earth is going on?

Turns out Amazon made Twenty-Somewhere free. See, they have a price-match policy, and I had set Twenty-Somewhere to be free on iTunes for the months of Sept and Oct. I knew it was a risk that Amazon would catch on, but 6 weeks had passed without their noticing, so I thought I was home-free.

Apparently not.

As I saw my sales climbing by the hundreds — or my downloads, really, since it was free and thus I was no longer earning royalties — I began to panic. What does this mean? How long should I let this go on? What if everyone hates it? What if this gets me blacklisted from any agent? What if what if what if?

Not wanting to (over)react too soon, I took a shower. I read some threads on the Writer’s Cafe forum of KindleBoards.com. I thought.

And I remembered that Twenty-Somewhere has always been my lab rat. An experiment in writing for fun, then in New Adult fiction, then in epublishing. Now in pricing. Sure, I hadn’t planned this new investigation, but that didn’t mean I had to cancel it. Why not ride it out for the rest of the month and see what happens?

So that’s what I’m going to do.

So far about 9,000 over 10,000 copies have been downloaded in less than 48 hours, putting Twenty-Somewhere at #9 on the Kindle Free list. To me that’s… staggering. Of course many of those downloads will never translate into actual reads. As a Kindle owner, I know there are “freebie hoarders,” and my story will sit forever in their Amazon Cloud.

But what if just 1% of those people read it? And what if some of them like it? And what if some of them come here to learn more about me and my writing?

(Or, in my fantasy, what if a Hollywood producer reads it and wants to make it a TV show?)

Who knows. Maybe absolutely nothing will come of this. That’s okay too. It’s a learning experience, and that’s what I want to do: learn. Adapt. Be open to possibilities and opportunities.

I expect it will be a month before I even begin to understand the effects of this. I’ll do my best to relate any findings here. In the meantime, I’ll still be finishing up my YA manuscript and then querying agents. With my birthday and Christmas both coming up soon, you can probably guess what’s on my wishlist.

New Adult redux

First, a big thanks to Erin, who sent me the link that served as the seed for this post.

Second, here’s my take on what “New Adult” even means.

Third, here we go.

The Young Adult Review Network asks: “Where are all the young adults?”

When is the last time you read a YA book with a 25-year-old protagonist?

An easy solution to this dilemma, you may say, is to walk towards the adult section of any library or bookstore. But why should I? The YA writing style is noticeably different than that of an adult novel. I do not know exactly what causes them to diverge – though I am in a constant quest for an answer – but there seems to be a sort of whimsical, hopeful, non-nostalgic element to YA. I am still a “young” adult.  I do not want to reflect, I want to react.

In other words: There are some readers who want an “in between” genre. Something after YA but before adult fiction. Something to bridge the gap between John Green and Jonathan Franzen.

(Actually, that was a big part of my inspiration in writing Twenty-Somewhere. To explore the stage of life that follows Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants but precedes Sex and the City.)

Agent Sarah LaPolla calls it “Putting the A in YA”:

[This brings] me to “New Adult,” a sub-genre of fiction trying semi-hard to exist in the post-YA, pre-adult marketplace for those between the ages of 18 and 25. I am all for this. The college experience, figuring out grad school, jobs, not living off your parents, etc. are hard to deal with and they are certainly not “adult” concerns.  They deserve their own literature. So why hasn’t it caught on yet?

Good question. LaPolla offers a couple theories on why New Adult is not a marketable genre right now, and why it won’t be for “at least another ten years.” Her first reason: time. There simply hasn’t been enough time for this to catch on. Heck, YA literature is still in its growth spurt.

I totally agree with that. It’s her second reason that I take issue with.

With New Adult, there is no universal experience. Within the genre, there are too many niche markets to consider, which makes it that much harder to place. Not everyone goes to college or makes the same choices when entering adulthood. Even within the group who goes to college, the experiences differ in ways that are much more polarizing than going to different high schools. No matter what kind of high school you went to, we were all forced to take the same general courses or participate in the same extracurricular activities.

Er, I find that to be a bit contradictory. Because the term “universal experience” comes from the idea that in spite of the many different paths we can take, there are certain core things we all have to deal with and go through. So the concept, as I understand it, depends on those different paths. Otherwise everything in life would be universal, right?

In YA lit, some teenagers come from wealth while others are in gangs. Some do drugs while others attend church. Some fight vampires while others fall in love with zombies. But regardless of their circumstances, they all grapple with the same kinds of things. Following or challenging authority, acting on or refusing romantic and sexual desires, discovering their own goals independent from parents or teachers.

And how is that any different from the universal experiences we could be exploring in New Adult lit?

Some twenty-somethings go to college while others go to war. Some stay virgins while others get married and have children. Some work two jobs while others live off their parents. But regardless of their circumstances, they all grapple with the same kinds of things. Having to make, find or redefine “home,” learning how to balance their personal and professional lives, fulfilling or rejecting the expectation to become a “productive member of society” (whatever that means).

In my opinion, there are a whole set of universal experiences and emotions at any developmental stage, and the point of literature is to explore and share the many interations of that. To show the common humanity between people, no matter how different or similar they may seem.

So again, LaPolla is probably right that it’s going to be a while before New Adult lit gets its own shelf at your local bookstore. But I think that it should get that shelf, someday. Because the twenties are a unique life-stage in modern society, and there are people who want to read and write about it. I’m one of them.

If you would like to read some of the “New Adult” lit that’s available now, there are some recommendations here and here.

A birthday, a handshake, and an inspiring friend

my workspace 001

First, I have to say “Happy Birthday!” to my little guy. Hard to believe it, but he’s 4 years old today. Or 28 in dog years, which makes him older than me and Andy… But shh, don’t tell him that! He already tends to think he’s in charge.

Second, thanks to e-publishing Twenty-Somewhere, I would call myself an “accidental indie author,” and today I’m over at All Things Books as part of a month-long Indie Authors Bash. I ended up blogging about book covers, and how all books (traditional or indie) need to have good ones, because they are like the handshake of the publishing world. I’d be honored if you would hop over and show me and hostess Tanya some love. Danke!

Last but not least, my friend Angie wrote a great post about “The Power of Sharing,” and how her family has gradually opened up about her sister’s developmental disabilities. They even helped start a nonprofit for families who are caring for members with special needs. Angie has always humbled me with the love, patience, and concern she shows for her sister, so when she says that her parents are her inspiration, you can imagine how great they are.

Confession from a former literary snob

Today — late last night, technically — I was over at We Heart YA talking about how YA, like Pinocchio, is a real boy, goshdarnit!

It all started with an email I received from a fellow writer. Once you read the WHYA post, you’ll see. Anyway, that was a year and a half ago, and I’ve come a long way in terms of how I view writing and genre and all that. Still, I was struck by my original response to that writer, and I thought I would share part of it here.

Admittedly, I still struggle with the genre thing, because I come from the viewpoint you do: literary fiction is king, and genre is like the court jester. Entertaining, but meaningless. That said, if I can bridge the two — if I can entertain without compromising quality of writing, without losing meaning — then I think I will have accomplished something. Something greater than just another book that Twilight-crazed girls will read, and something more than just another book that only other aspiring writers will read. (Gross exaggeration on both counts, but you get my drift.)

That’s actually why I stopped working on the paranormal YA story I brought in last night. Because as much fun as I was having, I wasn’t sure what the point was. Believe it or not, the “New Adult” web series I wrote? Had a point, at least for me. It was very much about being 20-something and wanting to be so much more. Being stuck in transition. And the “New Adult” book I’m working on now? Also has a point for me. I don’t want to do genre just for the sake of genre (which is sort of what last night’s YA story was) so now I’m trying to figure out how to take the best of both worlds and make them into something awesome.

A year and a half later, a lot has changed, but that’s still my mission. Produce Something Awesome.

Easier said than done, no?

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