Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tips from a Sisters in Crime Panel on EBooks

In a Pens Fatales blog post last week, I shared my news about forming Gargoyle Girl Productions and publishing my first novel myself. Since then, many people have asked me if I'd be chronicling my journey. I'm doing tons of research and taking lots of notes, so I thought I'd share my journey here on my new blog.

Yesterday I attended a panel on eBooks put on by my local Sisters in Crime chapter. Since my immune system is low from chemo, I donned my opera gloves (shown at left) and told my friends they'd have to take a rain-check on hugs for a couple more months. But I'm so glad I attended! I'm going to be publishing my books as both print books and eBooks, so it was helpful to hear what successful eBook authors had to say.

The authors on the panel were Simon Wood (mystery and horror), Bella Andre (romance), Dana Fredsti (mystery and zombie-fiction).

My Key Take-Aways from the Sisters in Crime NorCal Panel on eBooks:
  1. Everything in eBooks is changing so quickly. What was true last year isn't true today, and what's true today won't necessarily be true next year. 
  2. Covers are just as important for eBooks as for print books. If a current cover isn't generating sales, research your audience and change your cover. It's also a good idea to have a similar style for all your covers in a series so that readers can immediately see it's one of your books.
  3. Blog tours are the flavor of the moment. But before overcommitting yourself, think about how long it takes you to write a witty blog post, and decide if you'd rather be spending more time devoting that energy to your books.
  4. Paid advertising works in some cases. You need to be sure to target your particular readers. Research your market and see where you might want to place targeted online ads.
  5. The thinking on pricing eBooks changes over time, so stay current with your pricing. There's lots of different thinking on pricing, and there are also different audiences who think a book has value at different price points. The one thing the panelists agreed on is that giving away your eBooks for free to begin with to gain readers isn't a successful approach. If you start off free, people won't like the switch to being charged.
  6. For your eBooks to gain the most traction, you need to have lots of books available. If a reader likes one of your books, they want more, and if you've got other books available it's easy for them to get more at the click of a button. 
  7. Novellas are a viable eBook form. Unlike in print, novellas are very popular eBook downloads. They're also a great way to have time to write more eBooks for your eager readers.
I'm especially pleased about the last point, because my natural style of writing is short. It was a stretch for me to write two 75,000-word novels, but I can write much more quickly when writing shorter fiction. I've got rough outlines for several more Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery stories, so I think I'll write some of them as novellas.


  1. Thanks for sharing this Gigi. I'll be looking for your future posts from here.
    I love the gloves, and the flying frog!
    Edith Maxwell

  2. I would have liked to heard the entire panel on e-books, but thanks for sharing the highlights. I agree on blog tours--you failed to mention BORING your fans with too much info.

    I've been encouraging not-ready-for-prime-time writers to get those shorter works out to the world and build up name recognition. Nice to see a gal taking matters into her own hands.

    Hope to meet you in person at LCC Sacramento. Until then, Gargoyle Girl. . . .

  3. Thanks, Edith. And I'm glad to hear my flying frog monster has a fan!

    Sunny, that's a great point that blog tours can also get boring. I think it's possible to keep them interesting, but only if you have completely new and interesting content each time, which is what would take too much time to write. I'll be at Left Coast Crime, so I'll see you then!

  4. This is a great round-up of info, Gigi, thanks! I will be sharing it with the indie authors I know. I wish you the best--with your books, your recovery--and hope to stay in touch.

  5. You're trending with those fab gloves!

    Very interesting topic, Gigi, and points I'm sure we'll be revisiting often.

  6. Gigi, I loved reading your blog. Great fortunes with your self-pub. you are an encourager, thank you, I will be checking you out further Augie

  7. Marja M. also couldn't leave a comment. Here's one from Augie: "Oh Laurie, that's horrible. I hope you soon realize it's not typical of the writing community. It is a tough business and recongizing that, most of us are happy to help others learn and grow and succeed. There isn't an author out there who hasn't been guided by a stronger and more successful author. It's our pleasure and our responsiblity to do the same for others. Take heart, the good ones are waiting for you!

  8. Thanks, Jenny!

    Leslie, I wore the gloves for my health but it's fun to see that people like them :)

    Thanks for your good wishes, Augie.

    Sunny, I will never understand the fickle nature of the comments feature...

  9. Thanks for sharing this, Gigi.

    I was especially interested in the point about blog tours. I did one for my last release and I'm still reeling from the amount of time it took. Writing a few blog posts sounds easy until you have to come up with something different for each one. I shall certainly think long and hard about doing another.

  10. I thought that was a really interesting point, too, Shirley. I figured a blog tour would be the thing to do, but now I'm rethinking it. Seems I'm rethinking a lot of things these days!


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