Archive for the promotion Category

Putting Sex Back in the Series

After all the trouble of taking Sex out of the Jackson series, I’m about to put it back. Some of you may be thinking, It’s about time. But those of you who know the series, know that I was talking about The Sex Club, the first book to feature Detective Wade Jackson.

Late last year, I pulled it as the lead Jackson story and moved it into my standalone thriller category, mostly for political reasons (see blog). The book features a Planned Parenthood nurse and crazy anti-abortionist (protagonist and antagonist, respectively), and I made the change so the first book in the series would be more palatable to all readers.

I worried that some readers would simply be turned off by the title. Many other readers bought the book for the title. Either way, at this point Amazon Publishing/Thomas & Mercer owns the rights, and they plan to market it as part of the series. By the time their version comes out in January with all the other Jackson books—including the new one, Rules of Crime—I’ll have modified my website, bio, and book listings to match up with Amazon’s marketing.

Once again, The Sex Club will be the first title many readers see when they visit my website or see a list of my books. I have mixed feelings about this. I love the story, and I’m proud to be its author. But it’s the only title I have that doesn’t really reflect the crime-fiction genre that I write in. Hopefully readers will look beyond that book and see that I’m really about crime, violence, and death. 🙂

When my kids were growing up, I used to say I’d rather they watched sex scenes in movies than violence, but that’s another subject.

For the record, I could have objected to the strategy to market The Sex Club as a Jackson story. Amazon is very concerned with my input and involves me in all decisions. But I trust them to know what they’re doing. And I’ve felt guilty about moving the book since I made the change.

The Sex Club is different from the others. I wrote it as a standalone with two main characters, one a nurse and the other a homicide detective. So it’s little different from my other police procedurals. But I knew I might bring Jackson back. And for readers who like to start at the beginning of a character’s development, it’s only fair they know about the first book. (Which I’ve tried to do anyway by including phrases like “featuring Detective Jackson” in my marketing text.)

So Sex is back. And it’s a good thing. 🙂

 

First Book in Series Is Free

Secrets to Die ForI wanted to let everyone know that Secrets to Die For, the first book in the bestselling Detective Jackson mysteries, is free Wed. (22) and Thurs.(23) on Amazon. Grab one while you can.

 

If you thought The Sex Club was the first book, you’re also right. Here’s blog about that change.

The Importance of a Title

The numbers don’t lie. When my thriller was called The Arranger: A Futuristic Thriller, I couldn’t give the book away. After three days on Amazon’s free list (through the Select program), The Arranger managed a mere 1535 downloads, despite a 4.5-start rating and rave reviews. I’d already given away two books that racked up 55,000 downloads between them ,so I understood just how pathetic that number was, and I instinctively knew the problem was the title.

I originally came up with the title because it fit the antagonist, Paul. When I bounced it off my husband, he loved it and pushed for it. I keep thinking about The Gauntlet and he kept saying, “No, it’s been done.” So I put the book out as The Arranger, and that was clearly a mistake, especially when you consider I spent more on promotion for that book than any I’d ever done. <Sigh>

But the giveaway taught me that I needed a new name. And with your help, we came up with one: The Gauntlet Assassin. I made the changes, waited for the ebook to be reformatted with the new cover, and reloaded it to Amazon. Fortunately, I’d saved two days of the five-day giveaway, so I was able to list The Gauntlet Assassin for free for two days. In that time, it had nearly 15,000 downloads, and is now selling well.

Same cover, same description, same great reviews. But clearly the new name appealed to people in a way the original had not. I purposely took “A Futuristic Thriller” out of the title. I think the word future turned a lot of people off and made them think sci-fi or dystopian novel. The book is neither and set only 13 years from now.

The lesson here is that being independent allows me to makes changes and correct my mistakes.

In other news, an established production company saw a review of The Arranger and contacted me about film/TV rights. They’re reading the manuscript now. Wouldn’t it be amazing if this strange little story were made into a blockbuster film? My husband is  counting on it. 🙂

Writers: Have you changed a story’s title or cover to make it marketable?
Readers: How do you feel when writers make such changes?

The Exclusivity Dilemma

Amazon often dominates my thoughts these days. Like many other authors, because of Amazon’s KDP self-publishing program, I now have readers and I’m able to make a small living. So I’m deeply grateful to Amazon, even loyal. As an author, I’m also entirely dependent on the company. If it kicked me out of the KDP program, I’d have to go back to freelance editing, and I would write far fewer novels.

Yet, I don’t want to see Amazon become a monopoly or have it be the only place my books are available. I want readers to have choices. Still, to survive financially, I may have to climb on board the Amazon train and let go of the idea that I’m an independent author.

Two issues are on deck for me right now. First, is the lending library that everyone’s buzzing about and some are calling predatory. Amazon called me two weeks ago to pitch KDP Select to me personally. Surprised by the contact, I assume it’s because I have ten books on the market and sold quite a few on Kindle last year.

My only concern was the exclusivity issue, but in the end, I decided to enroll two of my standalone thrillers. Which means I had to pull those books from all other e-readers. I wasn’t making enough money on them from any other sources for it to be a financial decision. My hesitation was based only on my commitment to give readers full access to my books.

But the promotional opportunity Amazon offered—a five-day giveaway of the books—was hard to resist. The exposure could be invaluable. Right now, The Suicide Effect is being downloaded in record numbers. Because I have nine other books for new readers to buy, this could turn out well for me. I’ll know in the next month or so.

The other issue is the possibility of becoming an Amazon-published author. I have two thrillers in submission to Thomas & Mercer, with the hope that Amazon will buy the rights and republish them as T&M titles. If that happens—and I hope it does—those books would then be sold exclusively by Amazon. The benefit to me would be Amazon’s incredible marketing machine, which would expose my entire body of work to thousands of new readers.

So my commitment to full access for readers is eroding. After last year’s run-up in sales, followed by the inevitable decline when the Amazon algorithm dropped me (as it eventually does), I came to the conclusion that Amazon already owns me…if I want to be a full-time novelist. The struggle to resist is futile.

So I’m tempted to simply get it over with and put all my books in the lending program and give up on selling them anywhere else. I believe I’ll end up there someday anyway. It wouldn’t change my finances enough to worry about, but it would make me feel guilty about denying my books to readers who don’t do business with Amazon.

What do you think?

New Blog, New Website, Same Me

October and November were makeover months for me. I took a new publicity photo, rebranded my series, and created a new website and blog. I had a lot of help with the website from a charming man named Chris, but the design decisions are mine, so I hope you like it. If you were subscribed to my old blog, please resubscribe here. If you had my blog bookmarked, please note my new address. It hasn’t changed much, but the new url will be more friendly to search engines. (https://ljsellers.com/blog) Read more

Summer Sale: Jackson books $.99 in July!

As a thank you to readers who’ve supported me and made it possible for me to write full time—and in celebration of my birthday—I’m offering all five Detective Jackson books on Kindle and Nook for $.99 for the month of July. If you own another type of reader and want to take advantage of this offer, contact me. Read more

Looking for Logic? Not in Book Sales

Watching your digital book sales climb is exhilarating. Seeing them fall is heartbreaking and confusing. “What changed?” you ask yourself, feeling panicked. Did I slack off too much on blogging? Or forget to post in the forums? Did I take this success for granted for 24 hours? Frantically, you try to recreate the right combination of effort and luck that made it happen. Read more

Writers as Salespeople

sales chartA question from my ex-publisher stimulated me think about the pay structure in traditional publishing. The question she asked was: Why couldn’t you sell all those books when you were still under contract? Many factors came into play at the same time to quickly boost my e-book sales. Pricing strategy, volume of books, and massive effort all played a part. But one of the biggest issues Read more

Free E-Book or Not?

tbt-frontcoverI’ve been debating whether to offer one of my books for free on Kindle, temporarily, as a promotion. I know other authors have used the tactic successfully. And I’ve given away hundreds of print books and done so happily.But I keep talking myself out of doing a free Kindle e-book. Why? Read more

The Digital Revolution

“Ninety percent of your sales will come from word-of-mouth or digital promotion by 2011.” I read this striking prediction in late 2009 and made a note of it. I think it’s already true for upcoming novelists like me. The second part of the original post was even more important: How do you change what you’re doing today to be ready for that? Read more

Five-Time Readers Favorite Award Winner!

LATEST REVIEWS

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The characters were compelling, the procedural work was dead-on, and the story was enthralling. Definitely recommended.”
~Michelle Gagnon, author of Boneyard
The author expertly intertwines multiple story lines, presents readers with fully realized characters that readers will feel they know, and keeps the action and suspense levels high. That’s a lot to expect from an author but L. J. Sellers delivers.” ~OverMyDeadBody
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