Just over a month ago, I put my biopunk novel FourWar onto the Amazon Kindle store as an experiment in eBooks. Sad to say, I don’t appear to be the next John Locke or Amanda Hocking selling a million ebooks on Amazon. In fact, I’ve sold a mere two copies, both in the first week, and none at all since.
It would be nice if Amazon’s reporting would let me see how many people have actually looked at my novel and passed it up, but unfortunately they don’t make such information available to us lowly authors. I can only speculate that it isn’t very many yet. Far from being depressed about it, this has led me to reconsider my entire online presence.
As a first step, I installed Google Analytics tracking on this blog. I’ve always ran awstats in the background, and it claims I have something on the order of 300 unique users per day, but I’ve long suspected that the majority of those users were spammers trying to post comments on various articles I’ve written through the years (one in particular that was a popular rant with webmasters frustrated with the SORBS email blacklist). So Google Analytics has enabled me to sift some of that noise from my stats, and now I’m aware that I probably get more on the order of 5-10 visitors on a good day, sometimes only 3 or 4.
So, why is this relevant? Well, obviously I’m failing at the self-promotion game, and have been for a while. I’ve done all of the usual things people advise would-be eBook sellers to do: I have a Twitter account, a GoodReads profile where I’ve been posting a number of reviews, various accounts here and there that I microblog under, all back-linked here. But I’ve realized that I’ve been somewhat reclusive online for the last few years, and I think it’s coming back to bite me now that I’m actively seeking a certain amount of engagement. I certainly take self-blame for the atrophied readership.
That said, I’ve been looking at various ways of increasing FourWar’s exposure in the last month. I submitted it to Google Books in hopes of getting it onto the Android “Google Books” market, but that was excruciatingly painful. I’m aware that there are third-party services like Smashwords that will submit your books into multiple markets for you, but I’ve been more interested in understanding the process from the ground up, so I’ve been doing it all manually. All I can say is…seriously, Google, make it easier to do this! It took at least a week before FourWar left “processing,” and I’m still unclear on whether or not it’s actually on any Google markets now. The whole process is horribly opaque and unfriendly. I know that you can see a preview of FourWar on Google Books now, and it does have some cool features like showing related novels (presumably FourWar will show up as a book related to other books as well? Another very unclear thing…) and the word cloud that is a nice glimpse of “interesting” words and phrases from the book. I did briefly look at getting books into the Apple market as well, but it looks to be about as painful as the Google experience. I’m not sure why Amazon is the only company that makes it easy, but it’s obvious to me why Kindle is ahead as a publishing platform.
Anyway, on to month two. I have my fingers crossed.:)