Saturday, November 15, 2014

Wins and Losses

It's been an interesting couple weeks. I've survived my first blog tour, I've started hosting for other tours for the first time, and I purchased advertising for promotion, which is another first for me. That's a lot of firsts. How has everything panned out? Read on, faithful follower, and ye shall find out.

**By the way ...I believe in transparency here, so I'm not going to sugar coat or boast about anything. The numbers that I'll be mentioning are what they are. Take that for what it's worth**

Let's start out with Ghosts of Demons Past. For a couple days around Halloween I lowered the price on my debut paranormal/urban fantasy novel to $0.00. Yep, I made it free for all. I pimped the hell out of it on facebook and twitter, and I booked several free ads for it. The result? It moved a little over 4,000 copies. Not an astounding number by any stretch of the imagination, but not a number to be ignored, either. This middling performance got my name and the book out there to a wider audience, and helped me rank in the amazon free store, hitting #16 in the Paranormal & Urban category. Nice! This promotion is still paying dividends because I got a few sales out of it, a bunch of borrows (which are kinda like sales, but not really), and seven reviews thus far. The reviews are probably most important. Much like the mythical Sasquatch, Jersey Devil, and Jackalope, I've heard tell of this magical "fifty reviews is what it takes to get Amazon to promote you" number. Ghosts of Demons Past is now knocking on the door at forty-nine, forty-one of which are 5 star reviews. There have been a couple ratings on goodreads, too, but we'll stick with amazon for all of this stuff. I suspect I'll hit that all-important fifty review mark soon. Then we'll be able to see if that rumor is all it's cracked up to be.

On to the Funeral with a View blog tour. It ran for two weeks, and sixteen-or-so blogs signed up. There were interviews. There were tens lists (something I'd never heard of before but am now an expert on). There were guests posts, reviews, a giveaway ... all manner of shenanigans. Interest was pretty good. Lots of people left replies to my guests blogs, a slew of people tweeted and facebooked (is that a word? IT IS NOW!) about it, and around 3,700 entries were logged on the rafflecopter giveaway. The biggest "win" is the amount of reviews the blog tour generated. This is a very piddly number in the grand scheme of things, but Funeral with a View now has twelve reviews on Amazon: eleven 5 star, one 4 star. That's not too shabby, right? There were a couple blogs that reviewed it highly, but have yet to transfer said reviews to Amazon. That's okay. This is all volunteer, after all, and that they took part in the tour is greatly appreciated. That all sounds great, doesn't it? Tweets, reviews, interest, etc. It's early days yet, but I'm not sure how much the tour is paying off.

During the two weeks in which the tour ran, not a single sale was to be had. And I get that. People enter a contest to win an e-copy of a book to do just that: to see if they'll win. Why buy a book if there's a chance to win it. This is where the paid ads come in. Along with the tour, I bought a couple ads to get the book into people's hands, or at least bring it to their attention. The result of that? Two sales. That's what you call a tax write-off. Hey, it happens. Am I disappointed? Yep. Did I expect it? Sorta. No matter how good I think (and by the reviews, other people think) Funeral with a View is, I wasn't so deluded as to feel it would be a runaway hit. BUT! The people who have read it have really enjoyed it. We'll say that's a monetary loss, but a moral "win."

So what's the point of this rambling and word vomit? I'm looking at the bright side. The bright side is that I have now dubbed myself "The Best Reviewed, Worst Selling Author on Amazon."


That right there cracks me up every time I look at it, and is more evidence of my twisted sense of humor as it pertains to me. But there is a reason behind it. Let us take a look at some math! Don't worry, I have an engineering degree.

SO! I currently have six titles with my name on them; three that I've self published, three small-press anthologies to which I've contributed short stories. All totaled, those books/anthologies have a combined 136 reviews. That's hot a huge pool from which to sample, but political polls have been based on much more insignificant numbers. Still, we'll make it more interesting and keep it limited to my three self-published titles. Taking out those others leaves us with 127 amazon reviews. For argument's sake, let's say that four and five star reviews are "positive." You could make an argument for 3 star being positive, too, and you wouldn't be wrong, but I'll be even more stringent on myself and keep it limited to the four and five star ratings. Ghosts of Demons Past, Words with Fiends, and Funeral with a View have, to date, received 123 ratings of four stars or higher. *doing the math ... % over 100 equals is over of ... multiply ... divide ... etc* What's the answer? Rounding rules being what they are, that leaves us with a 97% overall positive rating based on almost 130 reviews. Doing more math, 70% of my reviews have been five stars. What does this all mean? Out of my three independently published works, I have an average rating of 4.73 stars. That does not suck. Actually, it's pretty fucking good. It's not only pretty fucking good, but it's a win.

As it stands now, my books are selling at the pace of the continental drift. That's okay. It's not a race, it's a marathon. I know I'm not the only one in this position. There are plenty of authors out there, most of whom are more talented than I am, that are struggling as well. But someone's paying attention, and those who have gotten their hands on them have rated my stories very highly. My barometer for success right now is based on one sale at a time, one review at a time, one win at a time. It's been a scratching and clawing fight to get either of those going, but it hasn't been all bad. Judging from my reviews, I may be on to something. This whole "Best Reviewed, Worst Selling" thing started off as a joke with a good author friend of mine. We got a good laugh out of it. We still get a good laugh out of it. But what the hell? I'm rolling with it. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. If nothing else, I have a cool slogan for this niche I've carved for myself.

Coming soon (and I hope to be a little better with the blogging, promise) I'll be starting up a "Books That Don't Suck" feature here at Overly Verbose. Straight from my amazon review archives of over 400 reviewed titles, I'll be pulling some more obscure novels out to share with everyone. It'll be a mix of indie and traditional authors, but none of them will suck ... thus the title. I'd like to say this is going to be a weekly feature, but I learned never to let my ass write a check my mouth can't cash. Or is that the other way around?

Until next time! So long. Take care. See 'ya round the interwebs.
Matt "ABRWSA" Schiariti


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