Good Advice, Bad Advice - Indie Pub It
How to Tell the Difference
One thing's for sure, everyone has an opinion on how you should be operating as an indie author (or thinks you shouldn’t be indie publishing at all). Everyone thinks they have a grip on how the publishing industry is shaking out.
The fact that the industry is still evolving, right now, and could be defined as in the middle (and bloody) stages of a reader and author coup, means that what everyone thinks could be 180 degrees wrong. It could be good advice now and go bad and whiffy by tomorrow – including what I tell you.
Even gurus like J.A. Konrath and Mark Coker have been proved wrong, or have recanted six months later. Konrath has publically declared his right to change his mind once he has better information.
That’s the key.
Data is the indie author’s best friend. It is the only true indicator of the right direction in which to head. It will give you reliable information when everyone around you is having a hissy-fit – and indie and legacy publishing discussions can generate a lot of angst and hysteria these days…have you noticed?
Because you as an indie author are your own niche and your own special and unique brand, what may work for xxx author over there – his blend of sales, promotions, publicity, pricing, packaging and the platforms he uses, etc., -- probably won’t work with exactly the same sort of effectiveness for you. You have to find your own sweet spot.
Track Your Sales Daily.
This is the key to everything. You will learn so much about your business from this simple step.
It doesn’t have to be hugely complicated, although as you get more and more into tracking your sales, you will find there are more interesting statistics you can mine from the numbers. It evolves.
To start, build a very simple spreadsheet that records the sales for each of your books, from each retailer, for each day, and totals them up, along with a grand total for the day, which can carry over to a monthly grand total, if you wish.
Then, at approximately the same time each day, check your sales with each retailer and record them.
Why bother doing this?
Daily movement of your sales gives you immediate feedback on activities that have impact on your sales.
If there is a sudden spike in sales on a single title, you’ll notice it and can investigate the source – if you’re not the cause of it. Once you find the cause, can you replicate it?
If you’ve put in time on a heavy-duty promotion campaign, you can also track the effect on your sales, too.
You will be able to analyse the slower moving books, and make decisions about when to lower or raise prices to promote their sales
Business Decision Analysis
Once you get comfortable with tracking your sales, you can use it as a tool for making sound business decisions.
For instance, the Amazon Select program is currently a hotly contended issue amongst Indie authors. Good…or bad? It depends purely on the impact to your own bottom line. The best you can do would be to ignore all the hype and vitriol, enrol one or six of your own books in the program and run the free promos….and track the effect on your own sales. After the ninety days are over, sit back and analyze the difference to your bottom line before and after. Was it worth it? Now you have black and white figures that tell you if Select is worth it for you.
And remember that publishing is shifting all the time, so in a year, you may want to trial the program again, because your data will be different.
This applies to anything and everything that is arriving and being invented in publishing. The only way you can know for sure is with black and white data —your own if you can arrange it, or the closest approximation if you must.
Other Types of Data
Your sales (your bottom line) are not the only source of data you can use to analyze what is working for you and what isn’t. There are other types of “secondary” data sources:
RSS Feed subscriptions
Newsletter subscriptions (and unsubs)
Facebook Fanpage likes
Amazon reviews per book/average review per book
Your web traffic stats
Google site ranking
These are just a select sample of some of the statistics you can keep track of in order to keep your thumb on the pulse of your business. Any or all of these will tell you if the activities you undertake are working or if they’re not worth repeating, and what you should do more of. Together, they provide the very best advice you can get.
Columnist: Tracy Cooper-Posey writes erotic vampire romance series and hot romantic suspense. She has been nominated for five CAPAs including Favourite Author, and won the Emma Darcy Award. She published 35 titles via legacy publishers before switching to indie publishing in March 2011. She has published 23 indie titles to date. Her indie books have made her an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and have been nominated four times for Book Of The Year. Byzantine Heartbreak won the title in 2012. Tracy has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at MacEwan University. An Australian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a former professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line. Her website can be found at http://TracyCooperPosey.com