Boise State Univeristy Library

Got a call from my local independent bookstore owner the other day that surprised and thrilled me.  She told me that the Boise State University Library wanted both of my books for their permanent collection.  I was thrilled and amazed that they would even want to stock a local and relativity unknown author.  Have I mentioned around here before how big of a BSU football fan I am?  Number 6 in the nation baby!

This just illustrates what your local book sellers can do for you if you let them champion your cause.  They sell to libraries and school systems as well as the general public.  If they like you as a person and respect your work as a writer, they will pass on their enthusiasm and sometimes that leads to exciting opportunities.  So befriend your local book sellers and let them get behind your books.  Becoming well-known in your community is but the first step to becoming known on a larger scale.  Think local, act global has always been my strategy for success as an independently published author.

It’s not a coincidence that my new mystery series is set here in Boise, Idaho and that several of the characters are either current or former BSU graduates.  Don’t be afraid to set your stories in the local community.  Just because you live in a state more known for potatoes than high tech mysteries, doesn’t mean you should set your book in some better-known local.  Readers of Null_Pointer get a unique look at life in a lesser-known city and state as well as an interesting story.

Thank you Laura and the staff of Rediscovered Books in Boise, Idaho, for all that you do for local authors and their readers!

New Forums

In addition to the regular website here on the new domain, I’m setting up forums to be used by fans, beta readers and fellow writers. Eventually, they will be accessible from within the main website, but for now, you can see them here –> http://forum.ken-mcconnell.com

The idea with the forums is to create a community around my novels and short stories.  All of the content that has been spread out all over various Ning sites and blogs will congeal in the forums.  When you need to communicate with me and other like-minded readers and writers, the forums is where you need to be.  I am a complete noob when it comes to running a forum, so expect a trial period where I basically don’t know anything.  I am a quick study, so that won’t last too long.  Please bear with me.

Updated:  I now have a menu link to the Forums.  You’re welcome!

Boise Weekly Quote

I was quoted in a local paper today.

“The people that work [at Rediscovered] really know books very well. They’re not afraid to talk up the local authors,” says McConnell. “That helps me as a writer who lives here, and it can only help the community to get to know those writers that do live here.”

Cool.  Great article, Tara Morgan!  Now go read the article and please come visit us all this Saturday evening at Rediscovered Bookshop!

Baker's Dozen

I’ll be appearing at Rediscovered Bookshop this coming Saturday, the 21st of November with 12 other Idaho writers in Baker’s Dozen.  The event got a nice write-up in the local paper here.  I spoke with a reporter from the Boise Weekly, on Friday, so I expect a similar that article this week, also on Baker’s Dozen.  That was my first newspaper phone interview, for those of you who are keeping track of my career.  The showcase of Idaho writers is now in it’s third year and going strong.  It’s my second invite and I’m happy to be back.  I’ll have lots of copies of Null_Pointer and a few Starstrikers on hand, so please do stop by if you missed seeing me at the book launch last month.

A Big Idea Must-Go-See

Stop right now and go see Scalzi’s Big Idea for today.  It’s about the art that appears in Scott Westerfeld’s new YA book – Leviathan.  As I’m now reading this book to my eight year old, I can attest that the drawings and the words are absolutely captivating for the both of us.  We are loving this book and are doing so as our bedtime reading.

Westerfeld’s words and Kieth Thompson’s art are keeping my son glued to the story and thinking about it in much deeper ways than he would without the artwork.  He studies each plate for all the details and points out what the author said about them.  This novel is very engaging for him and his dad.  We can’t wait to finish it and move on to the next one in the series.

Monday Tid-Bits

Website Update

Looks like things are falling into place now for my new domain name.  If you are curious, it will be http://www.ken-mcconnell.com.  You can go there now, but all I have up is a static HTML Coming Soon sign.

I’ve got the software I intend to use pushed to the new server, hosted by 1and1.  All I have to do now is find the time for an install fest.  The new site will have a WordPress install, custom theme, phpBB forums and a Wiki.  I don’t anticipate making the switch from here to there until sometime in December.  But that could change if I get it up and running like I want it sooner.

Writing Update

Moving right along on the Tyrmia Second Draft.  Up to Chapter 38 now, I believe.  Expect to slow down on it here shortly, but still should finish well before the end of November.

Promotion Update

I did a podcast interview with Chad Nelson this weekend for Hacker Public Radio.  As soon as I know that one is live, I’ll let you know about it.  Chad was very fun to talk with, we have much in common.  I may have rambled in the interview, but hopefully it was interesting.

Book Reviews

Null_Pointer is getting sent out to several reviewers this week, including Shannon at the  LLBookReview and Matt at Seattle-Geekly.

If you have read Null_Pointer and liked it, please continue to spread the word and write those reviews on sites like Amazon and Lulu and Barnes and Noble.   Some folks are circulating their paperback copies around the office.  That’s awesome!  Keep that enthusiasm coming.

Book Signing

Finally, another plug for my next book signing in Boise.  I’ll be attending Baker’s Dozen at Rediscovered Bookshop Saturday, 21st of November from 6:30pm – 8:30pm.  Come on out and meet myself and twelve other local Idaho authors and get a sample of our favorite recipes.   I’ll be giving out free chocolate and you know, nothing goes better with a good book, then a good piece of chocolate!

Numbers Game (pt. 2)

It’s difficult to tell just how well giving my books away has done for me.  As I indicated in yesterday’s post, I’m selling the books in e-book and paperback format.  Obviously the sales have been pretty non-spectacular.  But in order to make some comparisons with how many eye balls are on the books, I’ve compiled the following stats from the three sites that I am giving away the books from.  I am also giving them away on my book web sites and unfortunately I have no way to keep stats there. But for the sites that do offer me stats the results are below.

Null_Pointer

Yudu.com  1541 Views

Scribd.com  10,700 Views    PDF Downloads = 885

Smashwords Partial Downloads = 50

Starstrikers

Scribd.com  3,918 Views    PDF Downloads = 300 EST.

Smashwords Partial Downloads = 37

The most interesting stat is that of Null_Pointer on Scribd.  It’s had over ten thousand views and more importantly, almost nine hundred downloads.  Clearly, a lot of folks have seen the book on Scribd and quite a few have taken the opportunity to download it.  Presumably to read off line.  Yet this novel has only sold a handful of books.  It would appear, that giving away a novel does not automatically generate the kind of interest that leads to sales.  At least for the unknown authors.

The most effect way to sell books is to build an audience for them.  This is particularly difficult for unknown authors who are just starting out.  How do you get the word out without advertising and without being already known for something else?  This blog has been on the web since 1998 in various incarnations.  Yet it only gets less than 40 page views a day.  Clearly, having a blog is not a magic bullet either.

I’ve only done about three local book signings in the last two years.  But when I do have signings, I generate local interest.  Sometimes I never know how much value a signing has, other times, I get immediate feedback in the form of reviews or interviews.  I will be making an effort to get into more bookstores at least once a month in the coming year.

Book reviews are darn near impossible to get for Self-Published books.  It’s hard to suss out willing reviewers to take a chance on you, but when they do and the response is favorable, good things can happen.  Starstrikers was recently reviewed and I believe that one positive review netted me my most successful month of sales to date.  So getting reviews continues to be a top priority for me in the coming months.

Another important aspect of getting brand awareness, is having product to sell.  If all you have is one book, your chances of making a sale are limited.  The more different books you have to sell, the better off you are.  Back list inventory is important for growing your brand name.  Starstrikers has never sold better than when I put out my current book.  I expect that when I release my next SF book in September of 2010, I will get even more interest in Starstrikers and even Null_Pointer which is in a different genre.

There is only one area of publishing that I have not ventured into yet, and that is audio books.  I’m in the process of recording my first audio book right now.  In a few months I will be ready to venture into those waters.  Will giving away my book for free in audio format grow my platform and increase my sales?  Stay tuned in the coming year to find out.

The Numbers Game

Once again it’s time to share the numbers here on My View.  As many of you know, I’m selling my own novels and short stories in what is known as Self-Publishing.  In order to further educate my fellow writers about this process, I periodically offer my sales numbers.  This is not meant to discourage anyone from trying this, merely to show you what you might be in for should you attempt to go at it on your own.

First off, the Ebook sales from Jan-Sept 2009

Null_Pointer Units Sold = 2  Total Income = $4.48

Starstrikers Units Sold = 45  Total Income = $26.64

Short Stories Units Sold = 16  Total Income = $5.60

Total units sold = 65

TOTAL $36.72

Now, Paperback sales from Jan-Sept 2009

Null_Pointer Units Sold =  4    Total Income = $5.00

Starstrikers Units Sold =  7   Total Income = $27.65

Total units sold = 11

TOTAL $32.65

GRAND TOTAL $69.37 *

The exact breakdown of the prices is a bit complicated.  The Starstrikers ebook started off at $4.00 and wound up at $.99.  Same for the Null_Pointer, sold for $6.39 and now goes for $2.00.  The paperback prices are fixed at $14.95 for Starstrikers and $12.96 for Null_Pointer.

As you can see, the most sales are coming from ebooks.  But you have to sell quite a bit more of them than the paperbacks to catch up in sales.  Coming up tomorrow, the other side of the coin – how many copies have I given away or how many people have seen the books online for free.

* Numbers updated to reflect Smashwords sales and correct math.