Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Do Ebook Preorders Work? Part 2

A few months ago I wrote a blog post about preorders. I experimented with three preorder titles, curious as to how they'd perform.

Here are some of the topics I addressed back then, and my results.

1. Deadlines. I wanted to light a fire under my ass and get some work done. On one hand, why invite extra stress into your life? On the other, consider what motivates you.

Joe sez: Well, the fire was lit. And I burned hot. I wrote three novels and two novellas in less than six months, and I definitely felt the stress. As the deadlines neared, I beat a personal record--over 27,000 words in three days. And the words were good words, most of which I kept.

So deadlines did push me write over 250,000 words in only a few months. While it wasn't the most enjoyable writing experience I've ever had, I think the works turned out well, and since launching LAST CALL two days ago my panic attacks have almost stopped. :)

Verdict: Deadlines do force you to get words on the page, but only if you work well under stress.

2. Sales. I've had many writers ask me: What's the best time to launch a new book? My answer has always been the same: When it's finished. At the same time, if a book is going to be out on a certain date, why make people wait to buy it? And if fans want to buy something right now, why make them wait until later, when they could possibly forget?

Joe sez: I still think that you shouldn't make people wait to buy something. If they know it is going to come out, let them preorder it.

But preorder dates don't work as well as they could, for reasons I'll continue to disclose.

With Blu-ray, you can pre-order it on Amazon even if their is no set release date. I can see how they couldn't happen for KDP authors--it is bad customer service if readers pre-order books that take years to--or never--come out. But this would be a cool feature to have. I know my next Jack Daniels novel is WHITE RUSSIAN. I don't know when it will be finished, and I'm not committing to a crazy deadline again. But it would be nice to have readers be able to pre-order this title even without a release date set.

Verdict: I still would like readers to be able to order a book the moment they hear about it, but I don't think the pre-order system as currently configured is worth it.

3. Buzz. I believe that sales are about what you have to offer, not what you have to sell. The goal is to find people looking for the kinds of books that you write. So, when I'm pimping a title, I usually only do it around launch day, or if the book is on sale.

Joe sez: I haven't seen added sales benefits to pimping more often. In fact, I see downsides.

I announced preorders, I reminded people about preorders, and I announced on launch day. This constant promo has cost me some Twitter followers, and instead of having a big one-time boost in sales that would get me on a lot of Top 100 lists, I had a few smaller boosts. 

It's tough to compare recent numbers with numbers from the past because KU has changed KDP so much. But my gut is telling me that preorders lost me some of the visibility that a bigger launch would have had.

Verdict: I think less marketing over time, and a stronger marketing push on launch date, may be the way to go.

4. Sales. While slow and steady sales help your book attain, and keep, a decent ranking on Amazon, nothing beats a book launch without preorders for getting the best initial rank. But how much does getting high ranks and showing up on bestseller lists help raise sales?

Joe sez: All in all, I have about 6500 preorders for those three titles. That's a decent chunk of change, priced at $4.99 and $5.99. But I didn't peak on the bestseller lists like I'd done with previous titles.

Could it be my brands are losing their popularity? I don't think so. Sales remain solid--I'm still averaging about 180 sales per day and 140,000 KENP. And when I release a new title, there is a big boost. 

But my feeling is I'd get a bigger initial boost without preorders.

Verdict: Seeing preorder sales accumulate is nice. But I don't know if they help in the long run.

With or without preorders, I think a comparable number of readers are going to find my books. But I think if a substantial chunk of readers all bought on the same day, rather than sales being staggered over weeks and months, that would raise visibility on the bestseller lists.

Then again, having a book for sale for a longer time seems smarter than having it for sale for a shorter time. 

They're probably some equation for this. What are the number of eyeballs on a title ranked at #3000 for two months vs. the number of eyeballs on a title ranked at #15 for three days?

Going with my gut, my next few releases won't have preorder pages. Then I'll be able to compare data in a more meaningful way.

What have your results been?


Monday, June 27, 2016

Last Call is Released!

LAST CALL by JA Konrath Now Available

My tenth (and last?) Jack Daniels thriller, LAST CALL, is available today in ebook and paper.

Fans have been waiting over two years for this conclusion to the Jack Daniels/Luther Kite story. It was a lot of fun to write, and it ties up all of the loose ends from STIRRED and SERIAL KILLERS UNCUT.

RUM RUNNER, the ninth Jack Daniels mystery, is now available as an audiobook, performed by rock star Bob Walkenhorst of The Rainmakers.

Working with Bob was a dream come true for me, as I've been a fan of his for thirty years. I also had a chance to unleash my inner voice actor and play Harry McGlade.

Bob also narrates (and I play Harry) in the upcoming audiobook versions of WEBCAM and WATCHED TOO LONG, co-written by Ann Voss Peterson. Watch Amazon, Audible, and iTunes for July release dates.

Speaking of Ann, she and I are still writing funny erotica under the pen name Melinda DuChamp. Our latest is a novella in the bestselling Magic and Mayhem series, called THE SEVEN YEAR WITCH.

And if all that isn't enough, I have finally entered the Adult Coloring Book business with The Ultimate Adult Coloring Book of Triangles! It contains a hundred pages of the exact same triangle. And yes, it's supposed to be funny. Buy a copy for the adult coloring book fanatic in your life, or really confuse them by getting them the ebook version. CIRCLES and SQUARES are also available. Check out the reviews. They're hysterical.

There will be more new releases in upcoming months, including the long-awaited sequel to THE LIST, called THE NINE. I'm also going to finally finish that TIMECASTER trilogy.

As always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Chasing Publishing Trends

It's never wise to chase fads or trends, because by the time you get a product to market, it may be over and you've missed the bandwagon.

Unless the product is a book and you self-publish. Then you can write, edit, create cover art, and get three books live in less than three hours.

Presenting my latest epic trilogy:

JA Konrath Adult Coloring Books!!!

Not only am I able to compete on price with the major houses, but I'm also one-upping traditional publishers by releasing these titles as ebooks as well as paper books.

Take that, Big 5!

To buy, click on the links below:

From the Introduction to the Ultimate Adult Coloring Book of Triangles:

Do you like coloring?

Do you like triangles?

You just found the perfect book!

This coloring book contains one hundred pages of triangles!

What color will your triangles be? Red? Blue? Green? Red?

You're only limited by your imagination!

So grab some sort of coloring implement, and start coloring!

Also available as an ebook!*

*JA Konrath is not responsible for loss of or damages to your electronic device if you attempt to color your ebook.

Coming soon: The audiobook versions!

Monday, June 06, 2016


Whenever I have a chance to bend Amazon's ear, I make a few pitches. The top three always are:
  • I'd like to see cumulative sales figures, for both units and royalties, in KDP and Author Central reports.
  • I'd like to be able to automatically split royalties with co-writers.
  • I'd like the ability to make ebooks permafree.
Currently, it's a PITA to make a book permafree on Amazon. You have to make the ebook free on some other website, then keep alerting Amazon about those competitive prices by cutting and pasting URLs into the "tell us about a lower price" link:

It can take weeks for Amazon to price-match and make a title permafree. It's irritating, especially since I'm doing it for the benefit of Amazon customers and my own fans. (More on that in a moment.)

I understand that Countdown Deals are part of the reward for KU exclusivity, and those 5 day freebie slots are valuable. But thousands of authors are bypassing this already by using Draft 2 Digital and Smashwords to make freebies on Amazon's competitors.

Note to Amazon: That's self-defeating. If I want to make an ebook permanently free on Amazon.com, I also have to post free ebooks on Kobo, iTunes, Nook, etc. How does that benefit Amazon at all when I allow your competition to get my free titles?

Here's a suggestion: Allow KU unlimited titles the option of being free for a full year, provided they are free only on Amazon.com. The books are going to be free anyway, but this way, Amazon has exclusivity for those freebies.

I have only used permafree twice, and I've published over 60 titles on KDP.

I blogged in detail about this HERE.

I only give away about ten copies a day of this title. But the people who download it are fans and potential fans who want an easy checklist of all my book titles. Win for me, win for readers, win for Amazon.

So why did I have to upload it to six other ebook retailers and then send Amazon price-match alerts several times a day for two weeks in order to make it free?

The second permafree I've done is recent. I'm currently putting the finishing touches on the tenth Jack Daniels thriller, LAST CALL, and it ties into an old short story I wrote called THE AGREEMENT.

Why not give away THE AGREEMENT as an extra to people who read LAST CALL? Doesn't that seem like a fun extra?

What I once would have done is add it as bonus content to the end of the novel. But then readers could get irritated, because the book ends at 95% completion when they they were expecting more. So instead, I wanted to put a link in the book, giving them the option of reading the aforementioned story for free. 

Which meant jumping through hoops again just to give my fans something extra.

I decided to use it as a promo item as well, so it includes an excerpt from LAST CALL, if any readers want to get a sneak peak.

Now, if that was all there is to this story, I'd just suck it up and not whine in public. But, unfortunately, these two freebies are only available to Amazon US readers, because I haven't been able to make them free on Amazon stores in the UK, Canada, etc.

That's really not fair to my fans in other countries. It's like giving some of your children extra dessert, and telling the others to sod off. (See? I used a UKphemism! Why can't they get these titles free?!?)

What do you writers think? Do you want to be able to make titles permafree on Amazon? 

Let me hear from you in the comments.