Wednesday, June 13, 2012

To experiment?

I have learned about another self publishing venue, 'Smashword'.

Anyone have any thoughts or experience?

In general, better royalty cuts for authors plus they convert manuscripts more facilely than Lulu and into a variety of formats.

One drawback, they insist on cover art before placing anything in their 'Premium Catalogue' (which essentially promotes books to the likes of Amazon, Apple, Barnes etc... where the money is).

I have never placed much credence on cover art. In erotica such is ususally a 'come on' and nine times out of ten the sketches, photos, etc. have no relevance to the story inside the covers. Also it takes time and effort which I feel is better spent writing. For example the cover for 'Billie and Mary (available on Lulu) was graciously donoted by YPVS who conformed some existing Poser artwork to fit my needs. Then I had to trim and conform to Lulu specs.

Thereafter, as I have noted, I sold something like two hard cover copies in the ensuing twelve months. Not much reward for the effort.

With regard to erotica, one of the reasons I believe such is becoming very popular in Ebook format is the very fact that the reader is not displaying a racy, sordid cover while perusing on a train, subway or airplane... i.e, as opposed to a paperback, there is no display of the cover and that is preferred (akin to selling porn in the old brown paper bag).

Anyway, I will experiment, for now ignoring the entreaties to have cover art, and publish 'To Serve Intact' there for free as promised. The epilogue, to be sold at a nominal price, I will give some thought to.

Anyone who has thoughts or experience with Smashword please drop a note, here or chris_bellows



Anonymous said...

I don't think it is so much of the cover.

The thing is that with ebooks, it is easier for people from other countries to purchase, obtain and conceal them.

For instance, I don't think your books will ever be allowed into Singapore, and if I still live with my parents, forget about trying to order such a book online, and risk them stumbling onto it. Plus, I probably have to wait 2 or more weeks.

Also, it would be far less innocuous reading this on an ipad or even iphone on a crowded train, compared to a novel, which someone could just pick up and open out of curiosity.

I am not sure how successful you have been with ebooks so far, but I think they are the way to go. Perhaps you just need a little more publicity, as I feel you do write extremely well, just that your name pretty much still seems like a cipher outside of this forum.

I dunno - maybe start posting free excerpts on other more-visited sites like literotica, bdsmlibrary or even gaggedutopia? I am not sure if it may cheapen your brand name, but it might start getting more people to know you.

Or do you want to avoid being seen as too "mainstream"?

Chris Bellows said...


Great feedback.

Banned in Singapore! If I could only get the government there to officially announce that!

Volumewise my stories seem to be doing well in ebook format. But compared to what? I have no comparative basis, do not know how well other D/s authors sell. The other problem is the likes of Amazon and Apple ‘soak’ up a lot of the selling price. As I have stated, sometimes my royalty per book goes as low as $.46! So despite the volume, the $$ don't pile up due to ebooks. Think who is laboring the most and who has the highest ‘variable cost’. For Amazon, Apple, et al, there is practically no variable cost. The revenue from their side goes to the fixed cost of website software and its upkeep. Once that cost is covered it’s all profit.

I have posted stories in the past on a variety of sites. Probably the most ‘bang for the buck’ was offering a snippet to Sir Jeff for his pony girl site. The immediate response to sales of ‘Pony Girl Jackie’ was impressive. Two drawbacks... one, obviously stories there must be related to the human equine theme and I have written so much pony stuff that editors/publishers have suggested moving onward. Two, in particular to Jeff’s site, I write more Fem dom/male sub than vice versus. His site is obviously female submissive.

I ran into some glitches in getting onto Smashwords ‘premium listing (Apple, Amazon, Barnes etc.) which for the story(s) involved make little difference. After submitting cover art, I still was kept off the list because I reference my blog and other places to buy my books. The big ebook retailers don’t like that. But deleting that info is counter to what I am trying to do... that is get people to sample my stuff and perhaps buy more. I am trying to build a brand name, encouraging multiple sales subsequent to a first read. Obviously the ebook sellers just want to sling books... no regard to quality or the author and his/her following.

Well, the manner in which I have gone about selling/marketing ‘To Serve Intact’ is an experiment... giving away the main story and selling the epilogue. So far on Smashwords, 103 people have downloaded the free main story... 3 have purchased the epilogue. This is skewed by delays... one, by the fact that people need to read the first 24,000 words in order to make a purchase decision... and two, I posted the epilogue a day after ‘To Serve Intact’.

But overall I can conclude with confidence that people like free stuff.

I do not in particular avoid being mainstream, I just don’t see the strong nature of my themes achieving such. I therefore do not write, do not self edit, to attempt it. I cannot think of one instance where I rewrote something to tame it, tone it down. No, my stuff is unfettered by any such concerns or intentions. But it is nice to see the genre slipping into the mainstream with ‘50 Shades of Grey’ (I have not read it). It can’t hurt and perhaps readers of that will seek more (and stronger).

Thanks again for the input.