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Category: Just for Writers

Selling books on Amazon – What happens with a second book in the series

Posted in Distribution, Just for Writers, and Publishing

I try to keep most of my blog posts focused on my books — characters, writing, and so forth. But I am also running a business and every now and then I think you might find it interesting to understand a little about how it works.

I published book 1 of The Hounds of Annwn in early October, 2012, and released book 2 on January 1, 2013. This series is aimed at fantasy readers, but I have a strong secondary audience of foxhunters who also care about the topic. There are millions of fantasy readers and only a few thousand foxhunters, but I know the foxhunting crowd and am known to them for hunt country photography, so I had a built-in initial audience to tell about the books and to go to for editorial reviews. This has been great and I'm very grateful for their support, but it's imperative for me to come to the notice of the much, much larger fantasy audience. That's made more difficult by the unfortunate fact that few fantasy blogs will review independent authors.

One measure of penetration for Amazon is to see what's in the “people who bought this book also bought…” category on your Amazon book page. Initially, this was blank, but soon book 1 began to accumulate references to books the foxhunting community likes, such as the Rita Mae Brown foxhunting mysteries. I kept hoping I would begin to see general fantasy books listed, but for the initial three months that wasn't the case.

Since book 2 has been released earlier this month, things have become very different. It's still in its “recently published” period which is driving a certain amount of general discoverability. Sales for both books together so far this month (there's a week to go) have exceeded sales for the first book for the preceding three months all together. Book 1 is being bought at about twice the volume of book 2, which is what you would expect for a series.

Formatting a finished work

Posted in Just for Writers, and To Carry the Horn

I've been done with To Carry the Horn since the middle of September. Just waiting for one last bit of information — the Library of Congress CIP (Cataloguing in Publication) block of data for the copyright page — which should arrive in the next few days. After that, whoosh — up go the files for the ebooks and the trade paperback.

Just to give you a little flavor of what that's like…

1) Complete the manuscript (I use Scrivener). Output a version for Word. Use Word to do preliminary global changes. Call that “CleanWord”.

2) Use Word to make a marked up version destined for HTML. Use an HTML editor to make an absolutely clean version as a source for eBooks. Call that “CleanHTML”.

4) Use CleanHTML and Calibre to create the EPUB for Barnes & Noble and Kobo and the MOBI for Amazon. Load the EPUB file onto your ereader and proofread like mad. Three times. Make all the corrections to the Scrivener manuscript, the modified CleanWord, and the CleanHTML files. Note: i am spared doing my own upload to iTunes for Apple because one of the tools needed is a piece of software that only runs on a MAC. (Thank you, Steve Jobs.) I'll have to let Smashwords distribute to Apple.