Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Self-Published Author: Catering to the Readers

Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland
I just finished a rant about the difference between $.99 price for my book (like so many indie authors do) and a $2.99/$3.99 price. No idea if I will ever let it actually post. In the end, I am going to ask my readers for more than a $.30 royalty on my hard work. This made me think about my brief time as a Merchantainer in Tomorrowland.

Waaaaay back in the summer of 2001, an average family of 4 spent more than $4,000 on a week long vacation. This is why when Little Johnny drops a $3 ice cream cone, cast members immediately get Little Johnny a new ice cream cone. $3 loss for family to return and spend another $4,000, and to tell their friends how awesome their vacation was. More $4,000 vacationers. And no one talks about the overpriced ice cream.

So what can I do as an author to keep people talking about my book, but not that it is more expensive than the indie author's next to me?

Here's what I've got so far:

  • Spend extra care and time to make the reading experience easy. No formatting goofs. Absolutely no typos (working on quality assurance methodology). 
  • Create an inviting web home for my readers.

    1. Schedule regular 2-way conversations with my readers, live chat. 
    2. A place to talk and interact with other readers, at their leisure.
    3. Keep them on the pulse of what's going on.
    4. Create contests and activities that single readers out as special. Monthly drawings for early readers of new chapters, Amazon gift certificates?
    5. Offer quality list of related genre books my readers can read in the 5 months between when I publish novels. Not just a hodge-podge list. But books I've read myself and would recommend to my closest friends.
If I go above and beyond in the care of my readers, I give them another reason beyond my writing to be my friend. As a voracious reader myself, when I'm not toiling behind the keys, I know the difference between an author who works for their readers, and those who work for dollars. While I am not in a position to exchange the hours I spend giving more attention to my writing than my children for free, I can accept a modest living that will enable me to offer them more opportunities (not things) as a trade off. Plus, I think it's healthy for them to see Mommy doing more than just being Mommy. 

The very nature of my Red Ink collection is to share the imperfect journeys we make to find love in today's crazy mixed up world. My first story handles the idea of Prince Charming coming with a kid as part of the deal. This happened to me, but I wouldn't trade my Prince Charming, or his heir to the throne, for anything. My second story addresses financial compatibility, and how crushing debt can put the damper on serious passion in a jiffy. No handsome, rich man to swoop in and make those bills go away, either. I was more embarrassed and nervous to share my credit card debt and student loan balance back when my husband was my fiance than I was to get naked in front of him for the first time. And finally, the third book currently planned, a sequel to Cancelled, will focus on how co-parenting can really screw up a relationship quicker than adultery. Really. It's very hard to have a parenting team where both parents are equal players, even within a marriage. 

They aren't preachy books. They're the love stories we gossip about around the weekend breakfast table when it's our friend of a friend or disliked co-worker in a romantic mess. The stories we hear and think "Never in a million years would I ever get myself in that situation."  Love as it is. Messy, wonderful, hot, and in the end, the hope for us all. 

"Cancelled" arriving August 2011. Getting married and having a baby in the same year isn't that unusual. Unless it involves two different women.

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