A cunning plan. How cunning? You could tie a tail on it and call it a weasel. (Yes, I’m sort of quoting Black Adder. I’m that old.)
As I’ve been watching my sales and reading about the sales of others in this brave new e-book world, I’ve noticed some interesting trends. I’ve watched people promote their little hearts out and then cry about no sales. I’ve watched people stick up what I like to call “ugly” books (bad cover, bad blurb etc) and cry about no sales. I’ve watched books I would think were the slightly better-looking cousins of “ugly” books sell like crazy. I’ve watched books that were actually “ugly” books in disguise sell better than things I thought were actually worth reading. I’ve watched as my literary short stories under a name with zero internet profile out-sell my SF/F titles 5 and sometimes 10 to 1.
Basically… no one knows what will sell and why. We’ve got the four principles that Konrath and others go by: Good Book, Good Cover, Good Blurb, Low Price. I’ve seen plenty of titles with the magic four sell very few copies. Maybe they will be slower to take off, maybe those writers need to just keep at it and good things will happen (what one might call the DWS principle.) I don’t know.
One thing I would add to the above however, is “write in a popular genre”. Now, one might argue that good writing will find an audience, and I believe that. But would you rather aim at an audience of thousands, or hundreds of thousands? Does genre really matter? It’s hard to say. Mystery and Romance are very popular genres, but there are also a ton of books written in those genres (Romance on Kindle has more books than Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror combined). Chicken, egg, right?
But hey, what would be the point of experimenting in this awesome new world if I couldn’t run some tests. So here’s what I’m planning:
I’m going to write ten novellas (20-30k words each). Five in SF/F and five in Romance. When all ten are done (by end of September, hopefully), I’ll stick them all up online at the same time, for the same price. I intend to do zero promotion of the titles for six months (other than mentioning them here so that people will know when the experiment goes live). I would say that the Romance ones would be at a disadvantage since they won’t be under the name that has an internet presence, but my lit fic doesn’t seem to suffer from being under a pen name so I’m going to rule that the name doesn’t matter (it isn’t like I’m anybody anyway). I will do my best to make sure each novella has an awesome cover, a great blurb, and is of course an awesome book. And then I’ll sit back and watch and see how the numbers do.
My prediction, right now? The Romances will out-sell the SF/F titles 10-1. That’s my early prediction.
See? Isn’t this new world fun? All kinds of crazy experiments to run! *grin*