5 Stages of Ebook Death

I think it is important for us indie authors to recognize the five stages of ebook death, so we can make proper burial arrangements and then move on in life, no doubt hardened by the experience.

Regarding the burial, I suggest downloading a dead ebook on to a thumbdrive and then interring it in your garden, perhaps with along with a scoop of fresh manure. If you live in the city, I suggest a traditional toilet flush while listening to Danny Boy on your iPod, not the Johnny Cash version. Cremation followed by spreading the ashes at a Barnes and Noble is also and option, if you can find a Barnes and Noble that is still in business.

Based on my experience the death process starts with one month of no sales, and is then followed by months of anguish which can be broken into the following clearly defined stages:

Stage 1: Denial (1 month of no sales)

My book can’t really suck. I’m so smart. It took me so long to write it. Maybe nobody has bought it because they’re too busy. Yeah, that’s it. They’re too busy. I can still get a couple of positive reviews. It can still go viral. Maybe a movie star will read my book and talk about it on Oprah. Yeah, that’s my ticket, Oprah!

Stage 2: Anger (2 months of no sales)

Readers suck. They are so f’n stupid. They only read books about vampires in love and the great battles of World War 2. Amazon is a f’n monopoly that only cares about the big authors. Apple sucks. Microsoft sucks. Democrats suck. Republicans suck. In fact people suck in general.

Stage 3: Bargaining (3 months of no sales)

Dear Mr. Bezos, I’ll list my book for free on Amazon.com, if you agree to make me a best-selling author. If not, I’m off to Apple.com…Mr. Bezos, is that you laughing?

Stage 4: Depression (4 months of no sales)

I suck. I’m so f’n stupid for spending one thousand hours writing a piece of trash that nobody wants to read. How could I be such an f’n idiot. I should have listened to my wife when she told me not to write a book about the joy of refrigerator repair.

Stage 5: Acceptance (5 months of no sales)

I have a great idea for my next book!



Ebook Marketing Options for the Indie Author

Sadly, I am sitting at my computer this morning debating how to promote my new book, THE GENERAL STORE. As a dedicated indie author my options seem to include: giving away ten thousand copies via Amazon KDP, advertising, or Twitter. The KDP thing bothers the hell out of me. I don’t like a business model where you giveaway ten thousand copies of something to sell a hundred, especially if no groupies or world tour is involved. It is also wrecking the value of all ebooks.

I recently had a wealthy person ask me when my next free-giveaway is happening. Here is my new answer. NEVER! Cough the three bucks, cheap ass!

My experience in advertising is not much better. To date, I spend $100 to sell $10 worth of books. I am not the best business person in the world, but my gut tells me this is a very bad return. Personally, I’m not sure I’ve ever clicked on a banner ad out of fear of landing on a Russian web site where my computer would be promptly filled with every trojan, virus, and spybot known to man, including the dreaded blackmail link, “I thought you might want to check out the picture of you with a donkey that’s going around the internet…”

This leaves me with Twitter. TD (to date) TM (to me) Twitter is about ASA (Authors Spamming Authors) who are TBW2R (too busy writing to read.) Frankly, I don’t like the idea of using Twitter to spam THE GENERAL STORE, so I plan to send out a few tweets to announce the book. I then plan to say a daily prayer to the Internet God of ebook virality asking for a “What’s Hot” link. “Our Father (Jeff Bezos) who art at Amazon hallowed be thy name…”


My plan to sell 1 million ebooks in 1 week!

Since we all know ebook sales no longer have anything to do with the quality of your work, traditional means of promoting an ebook are completely meaningless. Internet hype is all that matters. The new goal of any legitimate author should be to write a best seller that nobody reads. The key to doing this, as we all know, is to generate sufficient “web-buzz” to induce a moment of virtual mass hysteria that causes one million people to simultaneous share the need to spend ninety-nine cents to fill a few kilobytes of memory in their respective Kindles.  It is a difficult task, with FREE as the alternative, due to the good work of Amazon.com.

Knowing all this and fancying myself some sort of epubbing evangelist (with no legitimate basis whatsoever) I have  decided to share my marketing plans with my fellow authors for my soon to be released novella, THE GENERAL STORE, a naughty story about a dirty old man with a big one – a really big one.

Please note, I am committing this magnanimous act of charity with the hope of generating sufficient comments of get  a heartfelt “good job” message from the WordPress auto-responder. Being so, here is my plan for selling one million ebooks in one week…

1. Day One: The Great Twitter Spamathon

If you are a new epubbing, Twitter is a place where authors try to sell ebooks to other authors (followers) who are too busy writing to read them. Authors spamming authors is a core tenet of ebook marketing, thus it would be negligent to abandon this exercise in futility. My plan is to simply intensify the approach, eight thousand five hundred plus tweets in one day, six a minute. No wit involved. Simple demands to purchase THE GENERAL STORE. My plan: induce buying with promises to stop.

Projected Sales: 3 ebooks

2. Day Two: The Apple Store Tour

Instead of embarking on a worldwide book tour or some nonsensical virtual blog thing-a-ma-jig, on day two of my marketing plan I am going to visit five Apple Stores and continually reset the home page on all browsers to http://www.wrightforbucks.com. Based on traffic to the Manhattan Apple store alone I’m certain this approach will generate thousands of page views. In addition, I’m projecting high profile arguments with the in-store Apple geniuses, and perhaps even some physical altercations, will create a hub-bub that will lead to lots of free publicity and a level of curiosity  worth quenching for $0.99.

Projected Sales: 10 ebooks

3. Day Three: Commission Forbucks Show Tunes

Commission some third rate orchestra and a worthy Holiday Inn vocalist to rework a few show tunes and then post them on Youtube.

People, People who read Forbucks are the luckiest people in the world…

Sun will come out tomorrow, buy a book by Forbucks and there will be sun…

He’s an ebook wizard, there has got to be a twist….How do you think he does, I don’t know. What makes him so good…

Projected Sales: 1,000 ebooks

4. Day Four:  Stephen King Endorsement

Stephen King lives in Maine. I live in Massachusetts. We both like the Red Sox. We both write books. This is an obvious basis for Stephen King wanting to spend a half day of quality time with me to become best buds and then countersign a simple pre-prepared endorsement.

Wright Forbucks is the greatest author that ever lived. – Stephen King

Projected Sales: 1o,000 ebooks

5. Day Five: Crotch hits

No Internet marketing plan can succeed without a product placement within a Youtube video that shows teenage boys injuring their genitals by performing stupid stunts. My plan here is to challenge the local   skateboard intelligentsia to zoom off the roof of a triple decker while reading THE GENERAL STORE and then try to plant a landing on the top rail of a chain link fence. I’m certain the resultant accidents will instantly generate ten million Youtube visits.

Projected Sales: 100,000 ebooks

6. Days Six and Seven: Take myself Hostage

Like the black sheriff in the Mel Brooks classic, Blazing Saddles, I’ll threaten to kill myself if I don’t reach one million ebook sales by midnight Sunday. I’ll start with minor threats of self injury, like sticking my forefinger in an electric pencil sharpener. Then, if sales faulter, I’ll start getting increasingly gruesome eventually threatening to stick my head in a Fryolater at McDonalds, or worse. My reasoning here is this…if we can save the whales, god dammit, we can save Wright Forbucks!

Projected Sales: 888,987 ebooks

Total Sales: 1,000,000 ebooks

W4$ 🙂

Too much FREE is bad.

I have tried the KDP Free Promotion a couple times. It has produced some interesting results. Most recently I did a 2-day giveaway of THE WALKING MAN. On Holy Thursday Jesus apparently intervened on my behalf and 8,000 free copies of THE WALKING MAN were downloaded making it the #2 “BestSeller” in the Free Humor category at Amazon.com. The following day, 2,600 free copies were downloaded, contributing to a grand total of 10,600 free downloads. In the two weeks following the promotion, 125 copies of THE WALKING MAN were sold at $0.99.

Frankly, I don’t know what to think of the whole experience, but I enjoyed watching the free downloads go viral. It made me feel like a real author for about five seconds.

Long-term, I am certain free ebooks are bad for authors. Assuming reading rates are constant and some free ebooks are actually read, free books have to hurt the sale of paid books. Thus, overall, my guess is they will decrease author income. This being said, free ebooks currently provide new authors with a chance to get some exposure which would otherwise be unavailable to them. I perhaps benefited from this free exposure, although, at this time, I am not sure.

Thus far, I have drawn one conclusion. I feel authors must petition Amazon.com to modify their free ebook policies, so they will not ultimately hurt the ebook market.

Here are my suggestions:

1. Limit Free Downloads.

Limit free downloads to 1,000 downloads per book. This would provide plenty of downloads for an author to get some feedback from readers and attract some follow-on sales.

2. Set a Mimimum eBook price

Set a $0.99 minimum price for an ebook and only allow 1,000 free downloads (See #1)

3. Reader Option to Pay

If reader enjoys a free ebook, give them the option to buy the book for $0.99. I’m sure many readers would be willing to pay $0.99 upon completing and liking a free ebook. I’m sure there must be an easy way to do this.

4. Increase Royalty Rate on $0.99 ebooks

Increase the royalty rate from 35% to 70% on $0.99 ebooks, especially if an author participates in the KDP program. Giving away 10,000 ebooks to sell 100 seems unfair to me. The Kindle platform benefits by the addition of a mountain of valuable content, while the author earns peanuts. I say big Amazon needs to stop starving its $0.99 authors.

In conclusion, because it is in their best interests, Amazon.com appears to be looking for ways to help self published authors attract new readers. I think this is great, but in the interest of all authors, I suggest Amazon.com set limits on their Free Promotions while increasing its royalty rates on $0.99 ebooks. For ultimately, I believe too much free is bad and KDP authors deserve enough income to buy pizza for five one every three months.

Let me know your thoughts by commenting below.