Light Novel Shirts.com

Light Novel Shirts.com – Merchandise!

Hello all! I’ve been pretty quiet on this, as I wanted to build the number of designs up a bit first. But with 32 original designs, I figured it was time to officially announce it here…I have merchandise 😉

The website in question is Light Novel Shirts.com. It has shirts dedicated to a few series, like…

But mostly it has designs celebrating general themes in anime, manga, and light novels. Things like..

And there’s more! There’s even shirts featuring my YouTube channel mascot, Shiori!

I’m really proud of the designs on the store so far. And all have been created specifically for the site. No stock imagery, no imagery stolen directly from screengrabs or official art.

So I hope you’ll go check it out!

 

Join My New Mailing List

1215930_14474450In an effort to stay better connected with my readers, I’ve created a mailing list.

Privacy

I’ve set up the list with MailChimp. They’ve been around for many years and comply with international standards on Spam, and Privacy, controls. Also, I am the one acting as list admin and the one sending out all the updates, so there aren’t any other hands involved with your contact information. Your email will never be sold or provided to any other parties.

And no worries on the volume of mail you’ll receive, the updates will only occur for big news items such as sales, new releases, or exclusives.

Which brings me to the next point…

Why Should I Sign Up?

Mailing list members will get the following benefits:

  • First news about new releases
  • An early heads-up on any book discounts, including exclusive discounts for list members.
  • Contests, including signed book giveaways, free ebooks, and more!
  • Previews on upcoming releases, including sample chapters.
  • Exclusive story content not available anywhere else.

If any of that sounds good to you, then use the widget to the right to sign up. I look forward to communicating with you!

Some Other Ways to Reach Me

In addition to the new mailing list, the Contact page now has a direct mailto link if you wish to send me an email, and it also has an address you can send snail mail to, if you still prefer to communicate that way.

Thanks everyone,

JR

Help an Indie Author Out

Let’s get something out of the way right now, I suck at marketing.

Sure, I read all the websites that promise their easy steps will tremendously boost my book sales. Tips like “find your audience” and “get involved with social media” do nothing for me.

The main reason I suck at marketing is because I don’t like it.

I see authors creating Facebook events for their book releases, blog tours, pimping their book every other tweet, they’re on message boards talking up their books, and offering all sorts of promos and freebies.

I go on those same social networks and post the cool article I found on little known facts about Return of the Jedi (this is the link BTW).

Sure, I post things on my website, and when a new book is coming out, or like the recent free promo for Revelation Game, I’ll do the odd post on Facebook or Twitter. But anything more than one or two makes me feel…Dirty.

Now, what I’m about to ask, it applies to all the indie authors you enjoy. Because all of us can use this exact same help. It’s only two simple things.

  1. Leave comments on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, wherever books are sold/discussed.
  2. Recommend the book to your friends who you think would like it.

Leaving Comments

I don’t need to explain this one to you. I mean, I buy books too. We hear about a book, or click on those “someone else looking at this purchased that” links, and almost immediately check out the comments.

When a book has lots of comments, I assume

  • It sells well
  • People are passionate about it.

And that’s not even counting what the comments say, or what the rating is.

Now I’m not saying you need to gush about the book. The best reviews are the ones that are balanced and honest. When I look at a book, I only look at the 2-4 star reviews. Because 1 star reviews generally hated the book so much I never get a sense of whether I might like it, and 5 star reviews love it so much, well, it’s the same thing.

Not that I would EVER turn down a 5 star review. Heck no. I’m super pleased when that happens. I’m just saying your views are valid, even if you didn’t totally hate, or love, the book.

To give you an idea of how few people comment; right now, on Amazon, Harbinger has 14 reviews. It’s not bad, and there are some great reviews. But this represents only about 0.5% of the people who have purchased Harbinger. Where are the others? What did all those other people think? Based on the number of copies of book two, Suture, that have sold, I’d say far more than only 0.5% enjoyed Harbinger.

So, knowing the importance of reviews, and how few people leave them, trust me, you are doing any author a huge favour by leaving a comment on their work. Not just for sales, but even to let them know how you felt about the work. I know I like hearing about it.

Tell Your Friends

I dream of being a “word of mouth” author. The thought that people would pass my book around, let friends check it out, is huge to me. That’s part of the reason I disabled DRM on my books.

When polls are done on how people found new authors, every single one I’ve seen puts “A friend recommended it to me” at the top. In the book industry, word of mouth has always been the most powerful selling tool. Hence why comments are so important. But hearing words of praise from a trusted friend, not just some random internet stranger, carries more weight.

If every review on Amazon hated a book, but my wife said she loved it and I would too, I would read the book. Because I trust her tastes and her knowledge of mine.

Shameless Begging

So hey, if you liked any of my works, go leave a comment somewhere, blog about it, tell some friends, and/or send me an email. Any and all of those are awesome.

If you want my participation in anything, send me an email or direct message on Twitter.

A Huge Thank You

To those who have taken the time to write comments, thank you. It’s because of you first, brave souls that my books have sold. And yeah, that includes even those who didn’t like the books, or found some faults with them.

Like I said, balanced comments are great.

So now that I’ve written this, I feel like I should be ashamed. I guess it’s because you’ve already done something great for me just by reading my book, or visiting this blog. You took time for my words, and in our time driven society, that’s pretty amazing. But I’m going to be strong and let this post live. And remember, all authors, especially lesser known ones, could use this help.

You might not realize how a few kind words about our books makes our day. Trust me, it’s powerful.

Thanks so much for checking this post out and giving it some consideration.

Talk to you again soon,

JR

Some Reflection a Month After Release

As we sit upon the precipice between November and December, it seems like a good time to take a look back at the past month and what it has meant for my little novel, Harbinger.

I released the book on October 30th (though that date varied by vendor depending on how fast their systems processed the files). I did this with modest fanfare. I announced it across my social networks, posted the news here on my website, and then proceeded to post samples of the book on the various sites that allow you to do such things (Scribd, Wattpad & Figment to be precise). I approached one person to see if she would do a review, but that’s yet to happen. After the first few days, I stayed quiet about the book. I didn’t continue to flood my Twitter feeds, nor did I post on Facebook every day that people should read my book and PLEASE give me a nice review on Amazon. I’m not great at that sort of thing. If anything, I would’ve just come off sounding whiny. So I continued to look at other places where I could post some news, samples, etc.

So how has the book done? Well, I’d like to think it’s exceeded my expectations for its first month of life.

  • In week one, I sold 12 copies through Amazon.
  • In week two, I sold 4 copies through Amazon and 1 copy through Kobo.
  • In week three, I sold 18 copies through Amazon and 1 copy through Smashwords.
  • In week four, I sold 116 copies through Amazon, 1 copy through Kobo, and 1 copy through Apple.
  • This week could see my sales top 140+ on Amazon.

So within five weeks of release, Harbinger will have sold about 300 copies.

I have no idea how this compares to the experience of other Indie Authors. I have no idea what magic I cast in week four that sent sales into the triple digits. I suspect it’s because I made enough sales in weeks 1-3 that the book started showing on Amazon’s Customers who purchased this also purchased…. type lists. On Amazon, more sales=more exposure=more sales. Also, it was about week three that I posted the first four chapters on Scribd. Over 100 people read those chapters, and I have to wonder if some of them then went and bought the book. In short, this is all dumb luck, and I’m at a loss to provide hard evidence of what happened.

It could be just the time of year as well.

So now I enter into the next phase of trying to generate some interest in the book. Print copies have finally arrived in my hands and I’ve set up a book giveaway on Goodreads (check out the contest here).

I hope that this will create some more interest in the book and keep the forward momentum going.

But this perceived success has given me reason for pause. I had planned to plow ahead and work on a separate novel, Gloom, and then work on the sequel to Harbinger, Suture. But I feel an obligation to these wonderful people who’ve given my book a chance. I’ve decided to focus my energies on completing Suture and temporarily shelving my other projects. It hurts a bit, seeing as how Gloom is over 50,000 words, but I know if I keep dividing my energies, I’ll fall behind on Suture-or deliver a book that pales in comparison to the first. A step backward would mean the end of my writing momentum. So, since no one was really all that eager for Gloom and Seeds, I’m putting them on the back burner until Suture has been finished and is seeing the light at the end of the edit tunnel. I’ve also decided to not even try to write anything new that could be a series. One series at a time. Any other books will have to be content with being oneoffs.

So there it is. My progress and my reflections. I know, maybe a little dull, but I felt like all this had to be said… if only for myself 😉

Thank you for all your support and time. If you’ve read Harbinger, send me an email and let me know what you thought.

All the best,

JR

Why The $0.99 Ebook Should Go Away

My wife, Carolyn, is a professional photographer. We had a discussion sometime ago about how it was difficult to convince some people to pay the appropriate price for professional photography when so many non-professionals charge cut-rate prices. I thought that people looking to hire a photographer would recognize the difference in quality and would therefor pay the higher price. I now think that was naive.

I visited writer Nathan Bransford’s blog yesterday and read an article on how attitudes toward e-book pricing seem to be changing.

So why the change? Why do people suddenly view the e-book as being worth less than they did a year ago? My simple answer, and it was the same for some of the commentators on the article, is the $0.99 e-book.

Why Charge $0.99 For an E-book?

There’s a number of reasons authors give to justify a bargain basement price for their e-books.

  • Readers are more likely to take a chance on something new/unknown if it’s cheap.
  • Price is the way indies can best compete with publishing houses.
  • I don’t care about money so much, I just want my book to get out there.
  • If I make this one cheap, more people will buy it & get hooked on my writing. Then I can charge more for the next books.

To an extent, all of these points are valid and true. But the question I find myself wondering is; Are we helping build these expectations in readers? Are there other ways to accomplish the same thing without selling ourselves out?

My Problem with the $0.99 E-book

I admit, this is mostly a perception thing. When I think of a book on sale for $0.99, I envision a garage sale. In that garage sale is a box of old paperbacks that have sat unloved and unread for years. Their spines are broken, their pages yellowed, and to be frank, they smell.

I have a problem thinking that a piece of writing I have dedicated possibly a year or more to would be valued on par with that when it’s brand new.

The other factor here is royalties. Amazon will pay 70% to the author for any e-book priced $2.99 or higher (though I understand at a higher dollar value, over $10, they drop the percentage again). Any book priced under $2.99 is paid a royalty of 30%. I understand this isn’t all about money to people. And if that’s the point, if you really want to get your book into as many hands as possible, give it away for free on your website. What you choose to do on your website is your business.

But when a book is for sale in a marketplace for such a low price, it devalues all comparable books. If a large percentage of well-written Young Adult novels are priced at $0.99, then after a while, won’t readers expect that all well-written YA novels should be $0.99? Aren’t we creating our own demon? If every book priced at $0.99 was an aberration, this wouldn’t be a problem. But apparently, there are some really well written books sitting in this price range. So readers are getting the message; Good e-books not written by a huge name author are only worth $0.99.

Why do you think virtually every hardcover, trade-paper, and mass market book are priced in a similar range by the big publishing houses? Because over the years they’ve built that expectation in readers and they know readers will pay those prices. Funny thing, new authors published by a big house are priced the same as established authors. Why? Because the big publishing houses have agreed that if they think it’s worth putting into print, it’s worth a certain price-point. For a great many number of years, readers have agreed.

So why would indies seek to set the bar so low when they’re finally getting some respect and recognition for their work?

Alternatives to the $0.99 E-book

First off, indies should take a page from the big publishers and agree on a standard pricing scheme for e-books. Perhaps stories less than 10,000 words should be $0.99, novellas at 20,000+ words are 2.99 and full novels are 4.99. This is all ball park, but if indies could establish a “norm” of pricing, it would condition readers.

Am I saying an indie should never offer a promotional price? No. But for a full novel, a good promo price should be $2.99, not $0.99.

If indies want customers to give them a try with little to no commitment, put the first third of your book on your website for free. Or, if you have a novella or series of short stories, put them on your site for free so people can get a taste for your style and content.

Traditional publishers have too many people to pay. They might be able to match the $4.99 price point, but I doubt they will beat it anytime soon. In this way, indies still are competitively priced in comparison to traditionally published authors.

Don’t forget community and word of mouth. In the large world of the internet, word of mouth can do more for your book than price. Get the word out. Send copies to book bloggers, give free copies away to your followers on Twitter. And if you read an indie book that you love, show that love by giving a good review on Amazon, Goodreads and plug it to your followers.

Don’t Devalue Yourself

Writing is a lonely pursuit. Most writers I’ve met, myself included, are very critical of themselves and their writing. While we fear the reaction to our work, we also crave it. I sometimes wonder if the $0.99 price point is more about ego, or lack thereof, than it is about marketing. Perhaps some writers think so little of their book and their ability to market that they believe it is impossible to succeed without nearly giving the book away.

If that’s the case, we need to stop being so hard on ourselves. Whether indie or traditionally published, we have all poured a considerable amount of hours, sweat, tears and sanity into the words we produce. What needs to happen is a fair price for such works needs to be established and maintained. The big houses have done it for years, maybe it’s time for indies to stop being so independent and to start looking at the larger picture. Through promoting those indie titles that exemplify the best of work and maintaining a consistent pricing scheme, indies will be able to make money and get their books out to readers without being a garage sale.

What are your thoughts? Is the $0.99 a good or bad thing?