Unique

Unique

Unique | Guy L. PaceHere’s the trouble with writing something different, unique. As I try to get reviews and marketing attention for Sudden Mission, Nasty Leftovers, and Carolina Dawn, I often come across the question “Are these like the Harry Potter books, or The Hunger Games?”

Uh. No.

And, that’s a problem. I can’t piggy-back off the success of other authors by claiming if you like The Hunger Games, you’ll love Sudden Mission. I’m not throwing shade on The Hunger Games or Suzanne Collins. She is a very good author and I loved her books, as I did J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

But, the Spirit Missions series–I think–is unique. It’s a teen Christian fiction series that incorporates some science fiction, fantasy, role-playing gaming, and a lot of spiritual elements. You won’t find anything like it on the shelves at a Christian book store–unless that store gets some copies of Spirit Missions.

Something Different

Of course, it all started when I set out to write something I wanted to read. For Christian fiction, I stumbled on Ted Dekker’s work. I found it fascinating and dealing with characters that weren’t cartoon simulations. That’s where I wanted to go. Write about real characters, facing challenges in the real world (okay, mostly real world), incorporating their relationship to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit during their journeys.

That’s where I went. I didn’t expect glowing reviews (but I got a few), and I expected a lot of knock-back due to the spiritual nature and some violence. I even expected harsh challenges to the Christian doctrine I chose to follow, and some shock with the way I handle aliens in Carolina Dawn.

What I got was positive feedback from friends who said their non-reader teens couldn’t put the books down. I just wish those teens would get on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and post reviews. I also got a couple of Spirit-filled Fiction awards and I hope Carolina Dawn earns one, too.

Self-publishing

Since my former publisher closed their doors in 2016, I’ve struggled with the marketing and promotion. It’s not easy when your product is so different or unique. I got some great help from fellow authors on the net and from friends and family around the country. I also received good advice from Rachel Thompson and her 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge.

So, I keep plugging along. Maybe someday someone will publish something and make the claim that “if you liked the Spirit Missions books, you’ll love <new book title>.” It’s a nice dream.

Keep writing.

 

Booksellers

Booksellers

This post is to bookstores and booksellers who buy or may buy my books.

BugBear Books | Guy L. PaceI recently got a shipment back from IngramSpark (the print-on-demand company). Of course, this is disappointing and frustrating. I had no idea who bought this lot and didn’t have a chance to help them sell the books. I communicated with Ingram hoping that there might be a way to help extend marketing by sharing some information. That’s not happening and it is no surprise. That information on their retailers is proprietary and they hold it closely.

So, I’m going around the long way.

If you purchase an order of my books for your inventory or for your store, fill out the contact form on the Connect page. Let me know that you bought them, how many, and if you would like some marketing support from me. I’ll post on this website to promote your business. I’ll post on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest to help you sell the books to your customer base.

If we can arrange it, I’ll even visit your location for a reading/signing/Q&A. There are some limits to this, but I’m willing to make the effort.

I don’t mind having a supply of books on hand. It’s expensive getting a shipment from the printer of returned books. I can’t sell books damaged in shipping and handling. The best solution all around is to make sure books ordered from the print-on-demand company (IngramSpark, in this case) get to the bookstore or bookseller and get the marketing support from the author (me) they need to get sold.

I updated the contact form and made sure it works on the Connect page. If you tried and failed to use the form before this date, please let me know.

Let’s make this work. Especially for independent Christian bookstores and booksellers.

Thanks.

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon | Guy L. PaceI’ve been working with some marketing people and trying different promotions on Amazon for Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers. As I move to the finish line on the third book, I want to have a stronger showing in the first two. While they have done well at times on Amazon, sales on the other e-book vendors have been abysmal. So, I had to come to a decision.

As of today, both books are only available, exclusively, on Amazon. Much as I wanted to have an open market for the books, it just wasn’t going to work.

There is a benefit for the reader, though. Via the KDP Select program, folks with Kindles and the Kindle app–along with an Amazon Prime or subscription account–can get and read both books for no added cost. That is in the Kindle Unlimited program that is part of KDP Select. You can still order your own e-book copy for $2.99, or the paperback (through a local bookstore or Amazon and shipped from Ingram Spark). But, if you want to just check it out and read it, that works, too. You can even lend a copy to a friend through the lending library feature.

I do have an option to opt out of the KDP Select in about 30 days. I do not expect that to happen.

I hope I’m not disappointing anyone. Amazon is what works and that’s where I have to take it. Thanks for your support.

Keep writing.

 

Royalties

What are royalties?

BugBear BooksRoyalties are the part of the price of a book that actually goes to the author after all other costs and fees. So, it doesn’t mean authors wear crowns. Here’s a little taste of the business side of writing and publishing.

If you check out Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers on Amazon, Nook, or Kobo, you’ll see that the price for the e-book version is $2.99. This is, I think, a reasonable price for an e-book. The print/paperback editions, as published through IngramSpark, are $10.95. As a self-published author, I get to set the pricing at a point that seems reasonable to me. I collect a nominal amount of royalty for each sale and the sale prices cover the costs of printing and/or producing the books. Marketing or promotion comes out of the royalties (my pocket).

Amazon, and most of the other e-book sellers, pay the author or publisher up to 70 per cent of the price of an e-book as long as the price is between $2.99 and $9.99. That seems the sweet spot for e-books. I went to the lower end of the price structure simply because I want my books accessible, and I felt the percentage was enough to cover my own costs and effort.

Hybrid Publishing

Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers first came out published by a–now defunct–hybrid publisher, Booktrope. When I signed up with them, they set the price of the e-book editions at $3.99 and the paperback editions at $13.99. My royalty from Booktrope would be 30 percent. Since I assumed that Booktrope would manage the creation of the e-book format, print format, and some marketing–as well as editing and proofreading support–that amount seemed fair. With most hybrid publishers, that is generally the deal with authors. A 30 percent royalty and the hybrid gets the 40 percent cut. Assuming that the hybrid does the work expected and the quality is decent, that is a reasonable and fair deal.

Even at $3.99 for the e-book, that price supports the production and release of an e-book edition just fine. The overhead costs of producing an e-book is very low. Much more so that production and printing–even on-demand printing–of a paperback or hard cover book.

Unfortunately, hybrid publishing is a hard business. Publishers come and go on a regular basis and authors get left in the cold. One friend has been through several hybrids with her books, and she sells a lot more than I.

Traditional Publishing

So, why are some e-books priced at $13.99 and higher?

If you look at books on Amazon with e-book prices above $10, you’ll see the publishers are traditional publishing houses, generally out of New York City. You’ll see new books released in the hard cover first, as with most traditional publishing processes, and the e-book released at the same time at a price of $13 to $20. Considering that the costs to produce the e-book edition are the same as, say, Sudden Mission‘s e-book edition–that seems like a very high price.

It is. You see, traditional publishing still follows the old model of producing a hard cover edition first, followed in a year or so by a paperback, maybe a trade paper, edition. Go to your local Barnes & Noble. How many hard cover copies of new books do you see going out the door? I’m talking the ones not on the bargain table. There are quite a few on the shelves, but they’ll get returned in a week or so when they don’t sell. The publisher will, if they are not damaged, re-sell them to other bookstores if they can. Eventually, the books that don’t sell get destroyed. Someone has to eat that cost.

But, traditional publishers figured out that if they release the e-book edition at the same time, the sales of the e-book will help subsidize the cost of producing–and later destroying–the hard cover edition. It’s a win-win for the traditional publisher, assuming the folks in the reading audience buy this concept.

How much does the author get in this? Well, a big name author can command between 12 and 15 percent royalty, maybe more. Less if represented by an agent. A less well-known author, with an agent, will get about half of whatever the royalty agreement is.

Bestsellers

Let’s have a little fantasy here. Say Sudden Mission became a best seller this year and we sold 50,000 copies of the e-book.

As a self-published author, at the current price for the e-book edition, my royalty for this year would be:

$104,650.00

With a hybrid publisher, at the $3.99 price for the e-book edition, my royalty for this year would be:

$59,850.00

With a traditional publisher, at a $13.99 price for the e-book, my royalty (after an agent takes a cut, I get 3 percent) would be:

$20,985.00

Granted, this doesn’t take into account the time, effort, and expense promoting the book. That includes attending conferences, SF&F cons, travel, hotels, all that. Yes, that is all on the author. Traditional publishers only cover travel and promotion for the top-tier authors. When it is all said and done, the author in each case would spend about one-third of the royalty for promotion. And, when that year of “bestseller status” is over–it is over. Royalties after the big year generally arrive in tiny dribs and drabs.

This example is a complete fantasy. But it does illustrate the differences between self-published, hybrid, and traditional. I was conservative on the traditional royalty rate and assumed an agent would be involved.

Bottom Line

Authors work hard to create a product. Most of the authors I know cannot support themselves on what they make from their work. They have “day jobs” and other ways to keep food on the table, pay for kid’s college, put gas in the car. Even authors who do well in the marketplace, do not make enough to live on just from the writing. Most authors I know who do well (better than I), rarely sell more than 10 percent of the books as in the above fantasy.

Those authors, including myself, are in the business because it’s a passion. A little fame, a little recognition–that all helps. We’d still write our stories anyway.

Keep writing.