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    Mary's DIY Publishing Blog


    From the Annals of Marketing Neglect

    So, Alicia had a good question:

    I'm curious - when you have a moment - how did your books do while you had no time to promote and pay attention to them? I hope well.

    Or did you find time for at least keeping track of that?

    Now, it seems she thinks that I haven't been paying any attention to my books for the past couple of months as I fixed up the new house. But the truth of the matter is that I haven't done ANY marketing since my brother passed away late last April--in a crisis, I've found that it's best to simplify one's life as much as possible and focus only on the things that are truly essential. As a result, aside from the stuff that cropped up because of something I did a couple of years back, there has been no marketing of my books for almost a year--no Facebook ads, nothing.

    How have sales been? Remarkably steady!

    With one important caveat: Whenever something changes with Amazon, the level of my sales changes--but then remains steady. Sales are lower since Amazon switched from have a Science Fiction: Series bestseller list to having a Science Fiction: First Contact list--but they have been quite consistent at that lower level.

    Compensating somewhat for that lower level is the fact that the book is now on the Science Fiction: First Contact list at Amazon UK.

    Wait! This means I am now an INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR!!! Oh, that's hilarious.

    The reason it's hilarious is that I'm still not selling tons of books--not nearly enough to make a living off it or anything. If I needed to do that--well, for starters I would actually write more, but also I would push to get on a bigger bestseller list, like getting back on the general Science Fiction list. Back in those days I was making about $500 a month off of sales of Trust--obviously still not enough to live off, either, but if I had more titles out....


    It's getting, it's getting, it's getting kinda hectic

    Moving in! It's happening! It's kind of a complicated process because the new place still lacks some key things (like a stove and curtains) but hopefully it will be done fairly soon!

    In the meantime, here's a couple of article I thought were interesting but didn't have time to actually write posts about:

    This one is about the music market in Japan. Japan has been notable because it's resisted digitization, but guess what's happening right now? Oh, yeah, digitization is happening with a vengeance and all the Japanese labels are being caught out because they thought that Japan was the one market that would never, ever change, so why should they prepare?

    I also have to point out something that has always annoyed me with reporting about the Japanese music market: People always report the revenues. So they say (or rather, they used to say), Oh, the Japanese music market is so much better than the U.S. music market because evil, awful digitization hasn't happened there so their revenues are still high!

    Anyone see the problem there? Revenues are not profits. If I sell something for $10 that costs me $8 to produce and ship, I have revenues of $10 but profits of only $2. What's so nice about digitization (be it music or books) is that you can sell something for $5 or $3 that costs you next to nothing to make. So yeah, your revenues go down, but who cares?

    That one is about dodgy on-line reviews. Businesses are starting to sue people who post negative fake reviews for defamation--something to keep in mind if you're ever tempted to trash someone via sock-puppet.



    Look at that!

    It's been mentioned that the way Amazon is designed gets you to focus on them at the expense of other retailers, and I'm going to expand that observation to note that the same is true of Amazon's international operations--I can't look up my Amazon UK numbers, so I just don't give them much thought.

    Until I was entering their payment into my checking software and realized that it was fully 50% of what Amazon US is paying me.

    It turns out that, at the moment, Trang is in the top 10 of Amazon UK's free first contact books!

    This pleases me very much, because in my opinion, British media tends to be very well-written. Of course there are many great American writers, but I've seen British trashy celebrity gossip crafted with a care that you would just never see here for that kind of story. I think we are much more of the mentality that there's high literature and then there's the everyday stuff that just needs to be simple and clear (really simple and really clear--we make zero assumptions about the literacy of our audience), while the British take more of the attitude that everything should be written as well as possible regardless of purpose. I really noticed that when I was collecting reviews for Serenity--American reviewers almost never noted that the movie was well-written, because that would be regarded as kind of off-putting ("this movie is hard, and you will not understand it"), while British reviewers almost always threw in a paragraph about how marvelous (and enjoyable!) the use of language was.


    Did I put in for that?

    I got an e-mail the other day telling me that Trang was being featured on Free eBooks Daily--I have no idea at this point if I submitted the book long ago or if there was some other selection criteria. (Looking at the site, I think I must have submitted it--wow, I have no memory of that.)

    Anyway, of course I thanked the person, but I had no idea if it would have any impact--that sort of thing doesn't always, and that site lists a whooole lot of books.

    At this point, though, I can say its definitely had an impact, which is nice, because God knows I'm not doing jack for the book nowadays. (But the house is painted! Now I can start moving stuff in!) It didn't cost anything, so if you're thinking about submitting a book to that site, it's probably worth doing. Just, you know, don't expect it to go up right away....


    How to make a romance excruciating

    The house is keeping me busy, so I decided it would be nice to unwind by watching more of the Hong sisters' output, starting with their very first show--you know, made back before they had the pull to make a non-generic drama.

    Remind me not to do that again.

    The show is called Delightful Girl Choon Hyang, and in theory it's supposed to be a retelling of a folktale, except that it's not. The interesting and very funny bits actually are, but they are few and far between--and they are incredibly frustrating, because you can see the Hong sisters' wit and humor come out to play for a tiny bit, but then all the good stuff is shoved back into its cage and we're just stuck with the annoying generic romance.

    It's annoying because its the kind of romance that gins up drama by having the characters be crazy and dumb, which I dislike in any story but I think is more of an issue in that genre because it's so character-driven. If the ENTIRE FOCUS of the story is a relationship between two people, shouldn't that relationship and those people actually be worth something?

    I mean, the vast majority of people have some level of relationship skills. But that's not helpful to a romance writer who needs to pad out a book or script! So the characters act like a pair of hypersensitive 14-year-olds with attachment disorders!

    Let's see if you are a real-life adult or a badly! written! romance! character! with a quiz!

    You really, really like someone! In fact, you're in love! Do you:

    1. Show affection for the person and ask them out.

    2. Treat the person like dirt and repeatedly inform them that you don't even like them--don't worry about them taking it seriously, they can read your mind!

    A significant other--or even just a friend--suddenly is in a very bad mood for no apparent reason. Do you:

    1. Ask them what's wrong, and offer to help if possible.

    2. Assume the worst! They hate you, and if the two of you are dating or married, they're cheating!

    You are in a serious relationship with someone you love very much. A problem crops up in some other area of your life. Do you:

    1. Discuss it with your partner.

    2. LIE! LIE!! LIE!!!

    You are in a serious relationship with someone you love very much. Their psycho stalker ex, who you know full well would do or say absolutely anything to sabotage the relationship, tells you something negative about your partner. Do you:

    1. Laugh in their face, then go home and have a good laugh about it with your partner.

    2. Believe them completely!

    You are in a serious relationship with someone you love very much. A horrible, abusive relative of theirs tells you it would be better for your partner if you went away, leaving them isolated with said abuser. Do you.

    1. Laugh in their face, then go home and have a good laugh about it with your partner.

    2. Do exactly what they tell you to!

    You are in a serious relationship with someone you love very much. The two of you are extremely close, and you communicate very well/have a wonderful sex life. Someone who is not nearly as close to your partner as you are suggests that you radically alter your communication/sexual style. Do you:

    1. Nod politely, then go home and have a good laugh about it with your partner.

    2. Accept the advice and follow it slavishly, without (and this is key) discussing it with your partner first!

    You are in a serious relationship with someone you love very much. Some random person tells you that your partner has done something very wrong, and unless you do exactly what they say, they will reveal this misdeed to the authorities. Do you:

    1. Discuss the matter with your partner and figure out what to do together.

    2. Submit to blackmail alone, because teamwork is for suckers!