Sunday, October 11, 2015

Adventures in Self-Publishing - Updates

A few notes and updates:

Smashwords has been taking a full three days for their pre-screening before they even think about submitting to vendors.  Even cover changes are taking this long.  However, they are still my distant second largest storefront after Amazon.

Draft2Digital has a feature where it automatically generates and "Also by" pages with links that are specific to the individual vendors.  When you add a new title, it can automatically add it to the list and update all your previous books to include the new information.  The only downside to D2D is their automated screening for objectionable material for certain vendors.  I'm assuming its automated, as it can reject items with a couple hours of submission.  There is some inconsistency - recently it rejected four titles for iTunes and Kobo, but accepted a Collection with the same titles inside.  It rejected some titles with no keywords, so it must look at the actual content itself.  Either they have a program that looks at combinations of words to measure creepiness, or they have staff that skims the books for same - either way.

Draft2Digital gets the books in the stores quicker than Smashwords, even taking out Smashwords pre-screening process.  D2D got a book into Kobo in a few hours on a Sunday night - some of my titles never end up in Kobo via Smashwords, and I have no idea if they got rejected or it just never got delivered.  I'm in a place now where I submit everything to D2D, and only use Smashwords for their own storefront and the vendors I couldn't get into with D2D.

Twitter doesn't seem to be a particular fruitful avenue for advertising books.  If one already has a presence and following there, the occasional announcement of a new title can't hurt, but just dropping ads doesn't get much mileage.  Their analytics page is garbage.  I know there can be differences in the way the same data is collected, where the daily cut-off points are, etc, but the best you can figure from Twitter's own analytics page is whether one tweet got more clicks relative to another.  Maybe.

You can pull it up to show all your tweets on the left side, with the totals on the right.  On my particular page, I have maybe 3-4 link clicks on the left, and like 20 on the right.  And Amazon affiliates counts like 150 for the same links over the same period.

The more stats I see on ebook sales, the fewer reliable trends I'm able to develop.  The term "your mileage may vary" definitely applies.  I've collected some data on a variety of other folks' titles to account for the fact that my titles are flatlined.  Monday is supposed to be the biggest online shopping day, but it's my worst day for ebooks.  Friday nights and Saturdays are slow, but things posted Saturday get clicked on Sunday.

There are only two reliable trends I've noticed - there's a bump at the beginning of the month (paychecks?) and holidays are always slow.

There's a ton of data out there on ebook buying trends.  Will they apply to your book?  Depends.  A particular advertiser might work wonders for Romance but get nothing for Sci-Fi.  Mystery fans might be all over twitter, but maybe the Horror folks are all on Pinterest.  And this doesn't even begin to touch individual differences.  Some of the top selling writers work in the lowest level genres.  Horror sells well for Stephen King, not so much for everyone else.

The take away - if you like working with data, sign up for Amazon Affiliates and get a ton of tracking IDs.  I think you can get 100 of them.  Then develop your own data, do split tests, knock yourself out.  Otherwise, just concentrate on getting your next book out.

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