Saturday, July 30, 2016

If You Are A Writer, Looking to Sell Your Books, READ THIS!

Note, please: I’m not selling anything here. Just trying to point out things I’ve learned that might also help you.

I’ve been writing, well, forever. But my early work was all academic and either practitioner-related or theoretical finance. All textbook stuff, and my early readers were my students in the MBA program where I taught NYU’s Stern Graduate Business School), a few decades in the past. It was not for money. As university faculty, it was “publish or perish.”

These days, I’m playing a different game on a different planet, so to speak. I’m a bestselling espionage technothriller novelist writing DS Kane’s Spies Lie series, currently with six titles out (Bloodridge, DeathByte, Swiftshadow, GrayNet, Baksheesh (Bribes), and ProxyWar). The initial marketing help I received was a report on market positioning for thriller fiction, from Alex Newton’s K-Lytics reports (http:// These were helpful in deciding how to tilt my books and which keywords would serve me best.

As I work on completing the seventh in the series, CypherGhost, I felt a need to review my marketing assumptions. I needed more data, to make decisions on specific marketing tactics.

·         How is the market for my books changing?
·         Can I continue to rely on the marketing methods my marketer, Rebecca Berus of 2 Market Books, developed specifically for me and my books? Or should we adjust my marketing budget and plans to accommodate recent changes in the market?
·         Can I employ the same specific marketing tactics repeatedly without the results diminishing?
·         How high is the ceiling in monthly revenues on my e-books, print books, and audiobooks, and is that ceiling changing?

It has been nearly two months since the current report from Author Earnings ( was released. I am still busy with writing and revising my next Spies Lie book, and my deadline for a copy-editable draft is getting near, but I decided to spend an hour or two to see if my marketing methods need revision. Here are my preliminary findings:

Independent publishers have nearly a 67% increase in unit sales and total revenues during the most current 27 months. Big House Traditional publishers show nearly a 33% decline over the same period. Indies now own 67% the market share of Trads, when measured in total dollars.
So far, so good. I continued reading. The next series of charts showed the 27 month trend of author share by publisher type. Indie authors nearly doubled their  market share. Trads were down by half. Here, we’re seeing the total market in dollars broken into pieces by publisher on a month-by-month basis. Again, it looks like my own results, and I find that a pleasing thing.
So, I needed to read on, to see if there were statistical aberrations I needed to heed. And, I found this:
·         “More than 50% of all traditionally published book sales of any format in the US now happen on
·         That’s just the traditionally published books, though.
·         In addition, roughly 85% of all non-traditionally published book sales of any format in the US also happen on
·         In other words, a comprehensive cross-sectional snapshot of’s sales, like the one we are describing here in our May report, is a definitive look at more than half of all daily US author earnings, period.”

I finally found the charts that depicted the annual income ceilings by author for the Trads versus the Indies who debuted in the last three years:
·         At $10,000 per year, there were about 1,800 Indie authors and just over 500 Trad authors. But, I make more than this.
·         At $25,000 per year, there were just under 1,000 Indie authors and just over 200 Trad authors. But, I make less than this right now, although by year end, my annualized results should approach this.
·         At $50,000, there were about 800 Indie authors and just under 200 Trad authors. This is my short-term income target (2 years).
·         At $100,000, there were just under 300 Indie authors and just under 75 Trad authors. This is my long-term income target (3 years).
·         There were charts for other, higher income totals ($250,000, $500,000 and $1,000,000), but by the time those interest me, I’m sure the results will change quite a bit.

Okay, so far, I think I can see exactly why I done so well: Rebecca Berus placed me, my books and my advertisements, all in the best spots to take advantage of current book demographics as they were changing. But, what about the future? How is this market changing and what will it look like in six more months? Will I be able to achieve my short-term income goals?

I reviewed previous Author Earnings Reports. They complete an update about once every four months. So, Trad author’s curves are flattening, not quite asymptotically. Authors incomes in the Trad world are failing to increase with the market. Their sales are slowly decelerating somewhat. Over the same period, Indie author’s curves are increasing at a slightly accelerating rate.

How long can I use the same techniques before their effectiveness is blunted? What new techniques work well, and which ones are doomed to fail?
·         The same advertisement for the same book in promotions three or more months apart begins to fail in its second occurrence (down by about 33% each time… 7,500 units to 5,000 units to 2,800 units, etc.)
·         “Free” books distributed per promotion fall even faster, down 50% per occurrence.
·         Selling promos at $0.99 is more effective for a higher retail price. $3.99 nets more sales at $0.99 than does retail at $2.99 on sale for $0.99.
·         For a long series, during a promo for any other book in the series, the first book in the series being nearly free ($0.99) will boost total promo sales (including all non-promoted books in the series) by about 25%. As a result of this, we changed the price of Bloodridge, the first book of the series to $0.99

It would seem that for the near term, I’m doing as I should.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Please read this, and help a fellow author I know, who was punished for writing a book about Donald Trump

I've known Brad Herzog for nearly a decade.

Here's what happens if you actively oppose the Presidential candidacy of Donald Trump. If you fear a Trump Presidency, you should consider a Kickstarter contribution to Brad's book:

Dear friends and family,

I'm going to put it bluntly: This is a request for your support toward a cause that we have always believed is bigger than us -- and now it has taken a dramatic and unfortunate turn.

If you are already aware of what happened to me and Amy last week and have expressed your outrage on social media, contributed to our Kickstarter campaign, shared our story and/or contacted us personally, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your support has buoyed us beyond words.

If you are unaware of the events that unfolded -- or perhaps unaware of our Kickstarter campaign -- please read on. And if you are offended by our attempt to write a little picture book about the dangers of a presidential candidate whom we believe is spreading hateful rhetoric and scapegoating entire segments of the population... well, we respect your right to have your own opinion. In fact, that's really what our recent tempest was all about:

On June 28, the day after we launched this littleKickstarter movement (an attempt to creatively express the courage of convictions in the form of a satirical book called D is for Dump Trump: An Anti-Hate Alphabet), we LOST OUR JOBS BECAUSE OF IT.

If you haven't already, I urge you to please click on this link to our Kickstarter page and watch a 3-minute video that summarizes our mission: At the bottom of this email is an easy step-by-step walk-through of how you can participate in our campaign.

If the video isn't enough to motivate you to do something, here is the story of how our mission to fight intolerance at the highest levels has claimed us as casualties:

As most of you know, for 17 summers we have worked as traveling spokespeople for the RV Industry Association, doing hundreds of local TV interviews to extol the joys and wonders of a road trip to all Americans. We know how lucky we have been to have had this opportunity, but please understand that it has been our primary source of income for nearly two decades, and we have worked damn hard to be professional in every way while promoting RVing. We have never used that platform to further any other agenda, political or otherwise. And we never would. Ever. And RVIA loved us. They renewed our year-by-year contract 16 times. They even gave us a national award called the "Spirit of America" award.

But in a case of terrible irony, we fell victim to circumstances that, frankly, remind us of something out of the Trump campaign's playbook. An RV industry newsletter editor got wind of our little book, having been sent a mysterious email about it. Without contacting us for any information or fact-checking, without (as far as we know) watching any TV interviews we had done this summer or in year's past or looking into the details of our contract with RVIA, he quickly wrote up an incendiary "opinion piece" calling for RVIA to "disavow their affiliation with these authors." He implied (not subtly) that we would somehow use our TV interviews to promote our politics. He also went on a mean-spirited tangent, wondering why "these California liberals need other people's money to publish a book."

But (as Trump knows well), the use of inflammatory code words and innuendo (however baseless) can incite the uninformed. A parade of incredibly nasty comments followed, all based on a manufactured story utilizing completely false assumptions. Here's a link to his "journalism" ( If you want to get really mad, read the early comments.

And of course, the negative publicity about us -- although completely unmerited -- became the story. We have always been aware of the conservative leanings of the RV industry, yet we happily and genuinely promoted the RV experience. Because we believed one had absolutely nothing to do with the other. But less than 24 hours after this story outed us as "California liberals," right after we did yet another professional and on-message TV interview in Phoenix, and without even discussing the matter with us after 17 YEARS of service, the powers that be "terminated" our contract, effective immediately. All because, in our separate lives, we wrote a funny little picture book about the dangers of reactionary rhetoric. Yes, tragic irony.

We're still reeling from this and are obviously worried about our road ahead. But we have the courage of our convictions. So we're doubling down. We are going to do all that we can to promote our "D is for Dump Trump" project. Now more than ever, we feel emboldened to do so.

And, ironically as well, what started as a tiny Kickstarter campaign has become something more. In fact, we passed our original funding goal in only 84 hours, and our campaign runs until August 4. So we hope that is just the tip of the iceberg. And we humbly ask for your support.

So please, if this story makes you angry or concerned about the state of intolerance in this country, don't just fume. SHARE this mission. JOIN US in our cause. Exhort your friends to support it and spread the word. We don't want to view this as a negative experience. We're POSITIVE we're on the right side.

With many thanks,
Brad and Amy

So what is a Kickstarter campaign? 

It's sort of like buying Girl Scout cookies -- without the calories. You financially support a creative project, but you also get something tangible in return (the various backer reward levels). 

Backing our project is an easy process: Simply go to our Kickstarter page and do the following:

1. Enjoy the video, read about the project and scroll through pledge options.
2. Click on the green "Back This Project" button.
3. Choose your reward level and pledge a dollar amount. Click "Continue." 
4. Create an account (EASY! Just name, email, create a password).
5. Pay with any major credit card. Your pledge will not be made public. 
6. Click the green "Pledge" button.

Why Not Books, ,, ,, CA 93950