Saturday, September 12, 2015

Statistics Are Like Poison Ivy. They Make Me Itch.

Statistics show romance, all forms--historical, suspense, paranormal, contemporary and erotic--command roughly 58% of all books sold. Yet, ask a woman is she reads romance and her expression changes to one whose just sucked a lemon dry. "I never read that drivel." Oooo-kay, so who is making up that 58%?

You've heard us complain in one blog post or another how hard it is to target our audience and promote to those groups. For example, the percentage of adults who read eBooks last year was 28%. Those who read print only was 69%. While those who read on their iPhones has risen to 14%. That adds up to 111%. Okay, my skin is starting to crawl. I like my figures to drawl a reasonable conclusion--like a hundred percent. I feel the need to rationalize it all. Perhaps, some people simply read a few paper books and also eBooks. That makes sense, right?

Then I got my monthly paper from Penguin Random House with an article on audio books (Reaches for back scratcher and tube of anti-itch cream). "Sales in the audiobook category totaled more than $1.47 billion in 2014, up 13.5 percent from 2013." So, where do I add those sales in?

In like manner, we've got the same crazy mix-up with promotional efforts. Blogging, many claim is going out of style. Yet my publisher sets me up on a blog tour for each release. The down side is few respond like they used to. I miss that back and forth chit-chat.

We're told our Amazon author pages are our best marketing tool. Really? Some "experts" tell us to keep our websites up to date and our Facebook author page, which I forget about. We're supposed to place our book covers in the large area of our author page heading and make it appealing for possible readers. My problem is I use my personal page out of habit.

Now...now these "experts" who have never had a deadline to meet, tell us Newsletters are the way to go. Well, yes, that sounds nice, but who do I send it to? We all get enough SPAM.

On the opposite side of the promotional spectrum, I've started watching how the big names promote. Laura Kaye, for example, tweets and tells everyone good morning on facebook. Every once in awhile she may post something about a book. At RWA, I went to a workshop given by a longtime favorite cowboy author of mine, Joan Johnston. At the end of her talk about showing stages of intimacy, she said it was time to talk about what we were all curious about--advances and how they were shrinking. She said she'd once gotten a six point two million advance. I nearly toppled out of my chair. I think I recall her saying her next advance was three million. I was still hyper-ventilating over the first figure she'd tossed out. She is still getting six-figure advances for her books. Another speaker told how she was making millions going Indie.

I turned to the lady next to me and bragged, "I once earned enough to fill my car with gas." She slid her chair away from me. Who knows...maybe I made her itch, too.

 When you're a turkey trying to fly with the eagles at RWA, how do you stand out? You impersonate one of your favorite characters. Effie, the pink-haired hippie who is obsessed with what a man does or doesn't wear under his kilt. To find out more about me, visit www.vonniedavis.com.

12 comments:

Rolynn Anderson said...

I'm with you, Vonnie...most stats are confusing in this digital age. I'm still trying to get my mind around Amazon tracking the page any given reader is 'on.' How big brother is that? So many 'shoulds' that turn into 'should nots' in this business I can't keep track. Example: I've never joined a tribe and the clapping of thunder puts me on edge. In the end, I've decided I'm happy to promote the writers whose books I've read, and communicate with readers who like my books (which looks a little like a newsletter). Like Effie, I'll try to stay in the moment.

Jannine Gallant said...

I don't even know where to start with this. How about the ever popular, "When are you going to write a real book?" Makes me want to hit people when I hear that! Yes, I think some readers are included in multiple categories. You hear lots of varying opinions on whether or not e-readers will replace paperbacks, or lose ground as a fad... Since I haven't noticed people ditching their iPhones to go back to the wall mounted dial version, I kind of think they're here to stay. Don't even get me started on your FB author page. I've been "punished" by FB for posting nothing but author promo posts (mostly for friends) on my author page. My last post was scene by 4 whole people. Used to average 7, so they're cutting me back even further! LOL So, be happy you only use your personal page. Author pages get NO exposure unless you pay for an ad since FB changed their rules at the beginning of the year. We recently had a huge discussion about this on one of my author loops. I also noticed the big names post more about their dogs, etc. than their books. Keeps FB playing nice. So, Vonnie, you're doing something right. Just keep posting those pics of Effie, and all will be good! Sorry to rant on your post, but my frustration level with promo is pretty high right now. Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Rolynn, I spend so much time on promotion. I hate it. It takes away from my writing, which I love. I try not to make all my facebook posts about books, but sometimes I do because I enjoy promoting other authors much more than I do myself.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Oh, rant away, Jannine. I knew going into this writing business--and it IS a business--that I'd have to do my own promotion. I just had no clue it would take hours of my life everyday. I get tired of it. And rules change. Just as you get used to one thing, it gets placed on the out of favor list. My publisher does some promo, which is a help.

Brenda Whiteside said...

You three said it all. Stats, promo...lots to rant about. I haven't written on my latest ms in weeks because of promo and watching Amazon stats on my re-release.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Everyone else has said it all. In many ways, better than I could. Whew! Thanks, guys, leaves me more time to enjoy how you all wrote your comments as much as learning from what you said. Huh? I know, confusing. The point is, no matter what we write, it's still writing, isn't it? Creating those blog posts and promo lines and such does have some value if only to further clarify in our own minds the stories we so love to tell. BTW Love your sense of humor, Vonnie. Go Effie! But six point two million? Be still my heart!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

It all sucks the joy right out of our profession. I've dedicated this weekend to writing the Christmas story for our readers here and doing a critique for my CP. Monday, I must get back to my contracted story. I have over 50,000 words to write and edit before the middle of November. And I have a release nearing the end of October to celebrate and promo the heck out of so people buy it.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

The book coming out in October has Effie singing and dancing in it. Aretha Franklin never sang "Respect" like Effie. What gets me is when someone says, "People always tell me I should write a book. My life's been so interesting." Well, maybe so, but what publisher will buy it? If you self-publish, are you willing to work your butt off to promote it? I'm retired and I'm at my computer from 9am until 4 when my eyes force me to take a nap. Then from 7 until midnight, I'm back at it while Calvin and I watch TV. Thank goodness for laptops.

Alison Henderson said...

All these "shoulds" in promo make my hair stand on end. And, more importantly, none of them seem to make any difference. I doubt ANYONE has EVER looked at my Amazon author page. I don't have an author page on FB, and based on everyone's experiences I'm not going to bother. I don't have a street team, and I'm not going to start a newsletter. What would I say, and who would want to read it?

I'm trying not to let the business side of the business suck all the pleasure out of writing, so I guess I've made a conscious decision to stay small. Yet, I feel guilty when I don't do all these promo things, and I still want readers to find and enjoy my books. What a quandry.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Alison, I know exactly where you're coming from. Have I ever bought a book from a tweet? No. From a facebook post. Yes. From an author's page? I rarely visit them. The same thing for websites. I open only the newsletters from online friends. So, I keep asking myself HOW do I chose books to buy and focus on those channels of promo. Then I think, but I'm older. A young reader would shop differently. So I ask my DIL's and granddaughters. It's a mind-boggling mess. LOL

Leah St. James said...

Vonnie, if you're a turkey, then I'm a ... well, never mind. I'm not creative enough at the moment to think of anything appropriate...and clean.

I think the people reading romance are the ones with the e-readers on the buses and trains and in waiting rooms so no one can see what they're reading. :-)

Jannine Gallant said...

Hey, maybe we should conduct our own poll. I live in CA where cars rule, but if any of you ever see a person on a train, subway, etc. reading with an ereader, ask them what books they buy and how they hear about them. Coffee shops, waiting rooms, etc.--all fair game. We could poll our non-writing friends and relatives to ask them. This could have potential since all those polls that hurt Vonnie's head seem to contradict each other half the time. I'd trust our results, and maybe we'd learn something about where promotion works!