On the one hand, I want to say the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale was a huge success. I sold WAY more books than I had dared to dream of. New sales record? Dude. And then some.
I don’t think many of those books went to you guys, either, but to people who were encountering me via the site. As I am typing — although it’ll probably have changed by the time you read this — I am the #11 Most Viewed author on Smashwords. That’s pretty incredible, especially when you consider how many authors are using Smashwords. That means people are looking. They were buying during the sale. I hope it’ll continue.
I doubt it will, though. Know why? Because the two books — Trevor’s Song and The Demo Tapes: Year 3 — that weren’t free sold a whopping three copies each. At $1.50 per book.
I won’t try to figure out the percentage. It’s single-digit. It’s sad.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t mind that it was the free books that moved. I like that people find themselves drawn to my fictional worlds and like most authors, I am pleased to see the books moving.
The problem is that people are picking up the free stuff. I hope they’re reading it, but that’s the one thing we authors rarely know, unless you readers post reviews or drop us authors a note. Let’s assume they’re reading it.
I doubt they don’t like it enough to spend money on the rest of my books. I don’t think it’s that at all. Rather, I think what’s going on is that there’s so much out there that’s free, people are snapping up the free stuff first, and waiting for the paid stuff to get to the point where the authors are willing to make them free. Then readers can repeat the cycle: picking up only the free stuff.
That’s still fine, especially because the pattern has been that when people pick up one of Trevor’s books, they tend to love the guy. How can you not? He’s a wounded soul, a bad boy whose persona has more holes than Swiss cheese, but of course, Trevor can’t see those holes in his armor. And he’s a rock star. Baby, we all love our rock stars.
So why does it sound like I’m about to whine? Well, because I am, of course.
I get the free thing. I do. I am all about free books, myself. That’s because money’s tight. Know why money’s tight?
Yep. Because I’m not earning any. Smashwords doesn’t pay royalties on free books, folks. There’s no portion of sales to hand back to us authors. Which means it doesn’t matter how many books I do sell during these promotions — and don’t get me wrong. They are awesome promotions — because unless that royalty rate ticks upward, I’m still a broke, struggling writer.
That part sucks. I hate it. Even more, I worry that one day, I’ll wake up and the only option will be to hang up my purple pen that writes in red ink, and get a job. Even minimum wage will pay me more than I’m earning right now.
There are a lot of ways to support your favorite authors. One is to write reviews of their books. Another is to buy copies to share with your friends and family. (Books make great gifts, especially when they come with a personal recommendation!)
But the best way is to spend your money and BUY those books.
So… to those couple hundred people who picked up my books during July, thank you. I hope you’ll love Trevor and the rest of the band as much as those of us who hang out here regularly do. Heck, I hope you’ll come join us here. And then, I hope you’ll go back to Smashwords, or over to Amazon, or B&N, or Powells, or wherever you buy your books and spend some green stuff.
Your new favorite author will thank you. I promise.