For starters, I wish I had an easy answer for this one. I'm sure I'm not the only one trying to figure this out either. So, I thought I'd share my ideas. Hopefully, some of it will be helpful to others facing the same problem.
Who knows, maybe I'll even come up with a solution for my own issues by the time I'm finished. You might be surprised how good writing things down is for working out stress and confusion. Sometimes, it's even better than talking out a problem. This way you can look back at what you've said and not rely on memory.
Okay, so here's the thing. Sales have almost completely stopped for the past 2 weeks on my 2 self-published books. (I'm not counting my books with publishers, because I have no control over those. Sure, I promote them. But I make a smaller portion from sales which equals to about the same thing as say 1 self-pub book vs. 3 traditionally published.) Therefore, I'm focusing on the books I have total control over.
This also makes it easier if I decide something needs to be changed, book description, price, etc. I'm in complete control of all that.
Like I said, sales have been at almost a complete stand-still. I have no idea why. Both books have good reviews. Readers have written to me to tell me how much they enjoyed them. And yet, these stories aren't moving.
My free read was a different story. As you may have read, I just removed Eaten by The Wolf because of a series of nasty fake reviews. This short story was downloaded 8,000+ times in the past 2 weeks. Why the hell would I take it down and not stick it out? Because I don't think it was helping my sales. The reviews were messing with my concentration and pissing me off on a daily basis. That's never good for creativity. Besides that, since the short had been free, only downloads of the short story increased. My sales of other books got lower.
Was the free read actually hurting me? If so, I don't believe it had anything to do with content. I believe it was more like people who'd never heard of me were going to get one of my books and, "Hey, this one is free."
Out of over 8,000 free copies, my sales only went up by about 3. That's right 3 copies! What a crock, right?
I have considered putting the free read back up. But I believe that will only add to more frustration and personal attacks from whatever nutters are after me. Besides, I wasn't making any money off it, and apparently it was NOT helping my sales.
My other idea is maybe I should leave Frank and The Werewolf Tamer in the KDP Select program. I'd said before that I believe this offers no real benefit to authors. I'm still not sure it does.
My book was downloaded for free (through the KDP Select program) about 30 times. What did I get out of this? $1.70 - One dollar and seventy cents. That HUGE pot they send everyone emails about all depends on how many authors are enrolled and how many times everyone's books are downloaded. Unless you're already a big name and get like 100,000 downloads, this will not pay your bills.
Another thing to consider is this. If your book is enrolled in the KDP Select program, you can't have it listed for sale anywhere else. At first I thought that was ridiculous. Why wouldn't I list my book in other places? Wouldn't I be selling myself short?
Not necessarily. My second self-published book is up on Smashwords. It's sold a whopping 10 copies in a month. Sure, every book is different and sales will fluctuate based on SO many factors it's frightening. But seriously, 10 copies? Is it worth taking Frank and The Werewolf Tamer out of the KDP Select program to list it on sites like this? Maybe not.
I also have this to consider. The free read I had listed there was only downloaded 1,500 (roughly) times in 2 months vs. the 8,000+ in 2 weeks on Amazon. Even if it didn't amount to sales, it speaks volumes about how many people are purchasing off Amazon vs. Smashwords.
So, here's what I'm thinking. (After debating this with me, myself, and I, because I have no one else to talk to. LOL) I may leave Frank and The Werewolf Tamer enrolled in KDP Select and see what happens.
Maybe Amazon will come up with another incentive for staying in this program that is actually worth something. Plus, this allows me to offer my story for free for up to 5 days every quarter.
Who knows if that will spike sales or not. Right now, it's all I've got. At the very least, more people will be exposed to my work and maybe even remember my name.
What's the point in continuing to release new books if no one knows they are there?