The Biz

First, an update… I’m probably spreading myself a little thin. I’m literally working on all three novels in the Renewal series right now. There’s novel 2, Decay, which is my main priority until it is released. There’s novel 3, Promise, which is most likely the final chapter of the Breakdown story, and there is the novelization of the Renewal series.

I’m open to feedback on what is important to you, but I’m working on the assumption that continuing the story is more important than repacking and extending the series that you have all paid good money to read. Tell me what you think.

The second big question is what to charge for a novel length work. I’ve solicited some opinions already, but I’m looking for a consensus on what you, my core readers, believe is a fair price for a full novel-length version of a Renewal story. Just for reference, Decay is running about 60,000 words longer than the entire Renewal series. Please let me know.

Next up is my sincere thanks for everyone who takes the time to review on Amazon. Based on the numbers alone, reviews are the lifeblood of success on Amazon ebooks. I saw a new review this morning, from Dan, who wrote the first Amazon review for Renewal. I can’t really express my gratitude for that initial review, but I can tell you that one review made the difference between 24 sales in two months and 30 sales in a single day. Every review makes a difference on Amazon, and I just want to say that I notice and appreciate every one of them. I pay attention to all the feedback. As I’ve mentioned, I treat this whole process as a learning experience, and everything you say feeds into making me into a better writer. That is priceless to me.

Now, for the downside… There is another entire platform out there, known as Barnes & Noble. My wife and I are Nook readers. My basic take is that the Nook hardware is better, but the Kindle system is much better as a whole. That appears to be changing with the release of the Kindle Fire, which among other attributes, excites the possibility for illustrated work. (My “official” career, such as it is, has been in digital art for the last 25 years, which naturally lends itself to concepts for children’s books).

At any rate, if you do a search for Renewal on B&N, you might find me at the end of a very long list of books. I’ve been told that reviews contribute to search ranking, but not as much as sales. Compared to Amazon, there are no sales to boost my ranking on the B&N, so I live at the end of a long search result, and the outcome is predictable. I can’t ask you to buy a B&N copy of my books, obviously, but I would ask that you help me out on the B&N side of the aisle. If you have the ability to do so, please post a review on B&N to help kickstart the sales on the Nook system. If not, please search out your Nook friends, weird as they may be, and point them in my direction. A search for “JF Perkins” – Totally unknown author, will work just fine.

I’m not particularly motivated by money, but I am motivated by the freedom to spend my time writing, and every sale makes it easier to do exactly that. I do love it, and I would be very happy to spend the rest of my working life telling stories with the written word. Any help is vastly appreciated.

Thanks again to all of you, and please let me know your thoughts.

26 thoughts on “The Biz”

    • Oh, I could probably write ten more books in the Renewal world, if that’s the key to my readers’ happiness. Two limits come into play. One is that I think it’s better to write three books that make a whole and complete saga, and leave room for your imagination, than to write an endless series of novels that never do more than drag the characters off into the future. The second limit is that life is short, and I have a ton of other ideas I want to write. Some have been in my head for years, and new ones pop up all the time. I have an entire folder full of nearly blank Word documents that contain a title and a few notes, waiting to be written. I have entire novels waiting to be rewritten, now that I have a couple of clues on how to do it.

      So, in short, there are plenty of ideas in store.

      Which brings me to another point. The series format. Who likes it? In terms of reviews, I have to pay attention to all the people who paid 99 cents, realized it wasn’t a full novel, and started complaining about value in one way or another. I know a few of you have said that you specifically like the series format, but the value-equation folks have been louder. Maybe I should always introduce new series in serial form. Maybe I should do everything in series, and maybe I should just avoid it. You tell me. 🙂

      • Currently the price at Amazon for individual part seems to be 3.44€. To me this seems too high price for complete story. 1.50€ would ne still ok. In any case, I would prefer full novel in one part.

        • Thanks for the feedback, markus. I went back to check. The way it’s set up is that each part is set at the Amazon minimum in dollars. I have it set up to convert to other currencies automatically. It currently reads at .86 in Euros. (don’t know how to make the Euros symbol). In any case, Renewal will be released as a full novel soon, and I’m only planning on full novels for the future. Thanks again!

          • Jim, thanks for the clarification. Actually, I also contacted Amazon about this and got an reply that they do “local market segmentation”, and hence the steep price. I’m residing in Northern Europe. Don’t worry, I’m hooked to the story and will buy in any case. 😉
            But I feel the high total price may be a repellent for other European customers.

      • Markus,
        Thank you for the information. I’m sure you are right about the pricing being repellent. The sales numbers in European Amazon stores proves it. I wish I had more control over it. I tried manually setting the euro price, but it wouldn’t let me go below the automatic conversion value. Hopefully, someday I’ll be selling enough that they will pay attention to my thoughts on the matter.
        Thanks for taking the local market segmentation hit. I appreciate it.

        Jim

  1. I agree with you on not writing an endless series. I enjoy not having every loose end tied up and explained to me, it makes the story more personal and allows my own interpretation of the characters and their future
    As far as the series format, I too was caught off guard by the length of the first installment, however I was so interested and pulled into the story that the 99 cents didn’t matter to me I just wanted the next one. Although I would rather purchase a complete book at once.
    Hind site is 20/20 after reading the series I would have gladly paid the equivalent amount for the complete novel. Having said that I hope I wouldn’t have skipped over the book due to “sticker shock” as a full priced novel not knowing the Author.
    So I guess what I’m saying is the 99 cents was a good way for me to test the waters. I’m so glad I did I love the Renewal series and the way you write, I am patiently waiting (checking twice a day) for the next book to be released. I also am excited to read any future books you are working on.

    Thanks!

    • Thanks for the thoughts. That’s exactly the kind of thing that helps me figure it out. As a compromise between a series, which is limited by Amazon’s minimum ebook price, and a novel, which is better for you and me in terms of money – in and out, what do you think about a hybrid approach? I could, for example, publish a preview for 99 cents, since free is not an option, and then publish the full novel at some yet to be determined price. Don’t worry. The $9.90 price of the series is not even on my radar. I am a green unknown author and I know it. 🙂

  2. I think that would be successful and would attract new readers to your books. However I think that with reviews of current ‘books’ and soon to be released books. People will be willing to jump in for the price of a complete novel.

    I think the snowball is rolling, on a steep hill…

  3. I really enjoyed the serial format. Being an avid reader with a great deal of free time to read at work I normal read 4 or 5 full length novels each week. I liked the serial installment as there was always something new coming soon. I look forward to reading whatever you choose to publish as I really love your writing style. You create a really vivid world with great characters.

    • As long as nobody is out there buying extra Nook copies just to write a review. I don’t want that. It looks like anyone with a B&N account can choose a reviewer name and have at it. I’m not sure if you need a purchase history with them or not.

  4. Jim, are you saying that you must charge a minimum of 99 cents for an Amazon ebook? If so, that makes the math a little tricky. I’m sure some readers are upset that the entire book cost $9.90, when most quality indie books seem to be going for $6.99 at the Kindle store.

    Obviously, if you could charge 69 or 79 cents a whack for a serialized version, that might quiet the value crowd. Meanwhile, I’m a firm believer that 99 cents is a wonderful price point for indie fiction at Amazon – indeed, several indie writers have offered entire novels from 99 cents to $2.99. Their editing, in general, is far worse than yours, but I’ve read some compelling stories from some of them.

    As this was you first novel, you might have considered giving Chapter 1 away for free and then charging for additional chapters – I’ve seen this technique done on Amazon as well. Maybe an idea for Decay?

    In any case, as far as I’m concerned, you’ve now proven yourself as an excellent writer in the PA genre, so I’m champing at the bit to see your next efforts and will pay whatever you charge, even if you try for Stephen King pricing. 🙂

    Regarding more content post-Renewal: I’m sure there will come a point when you feel your characters are complete and you won’t want to write about them anymore; but you’ve created a fascinating Breakdown/Renewal universe. Think about perhaps a new storyline at a different time/place in this universe for a novel after your initial efforts come out. Not something to worry about this year or even next, but I hope you’ll return to this world someday.

    Whatever you do, don’t be a David Gerrold and wait 20 years and counting to finish a series!

    • That’s correct. 99 cents is the minimum price to publish on Amazon and B&N. I thought there was a free option until recently. There once was, but it’s gone now. From an author’s point of view, 99 cents is nothing for the work that goes into it, but from a reader’s point of view, .99 times 10 is an uncomfortable price for a novel’s worth of fiction from a new author, so I can definitely see the value crowd perspective. The other aspect is what you consider a novel. Most of the indie novels I have read tend to be on the short side, roughly 3-4 Renewal parts. Technically, that’s a novel, but mine tend to come out on the long end of the spectrum. Decay is about 13 Renewal parts long, or 265,000 words.

      The option of giving away a free preview is now gone, strictly speaking, but I can define the free preview segment that is built in to every Kindle title. I can also offer up a chunk of the novel on my blog, if everyone is comfortable with sideloading to the Kindle.

      Thank you for the vote of confidence. Obviously, I want to get as much out of each sale as possible, but I also have a strong sense of fair play. It bothers me when people think the serial release is a marketing scheme when the reality is that was the best I could do at the time. Just like my real world relationships, I want the people I care about to end up happy, and I care about my readers. I don’t want to be in a position where I have to ask myself if what I’m doing is fair and reasonable. I can say that $5.99 is my most likely pricing for Decay. Given the math behind the scenes, that makes it quite a bit cheaper for you, and slightly better for me.

      I can look at some of my other favorites in the genre at $7.99 and my gut call as a reader tells me it’s too high. I’m probably like you, in that once I decide I like an author, I’m even willing to pull the occasional hardback just for early access to the material.

      Post-Renewal, I have an entirely different kind of apocalypse to explore. I think it’s unique. I’m not sure that three novels will exhaust the Renewal universe for me, but I think it will exhaust the Teeny Town framework. Anything beyond that could fall into the spin-off category. You may have guessed that the attraction for me is not the exact terms of the Breakdown, but the social patterns involved in change, and how individuals cope with it. There are characters and setups in my head that will not make it into the Renewal story. Perhaps they will follow.

      As for the David Gerrold effect, I have to write it while it’s all in my head, or not at all. Maybe that’s what happened to him.

      Thank you very much for your thoughts. I appreciate it, DB.

      • You’re welcome. And I discovered one more Terry Sheffield appearance, right at the start of Part 9, so log that for the eventual novel. I just finished the Renewal series and all I can say is, you booger, you didn’t finish Bill’s Breakdown story! -grin-

      • I didn’t have a problem with the Renewal Series costing 99 cents each. It gave me far more entertainment than going out to a movie, and it seems like anytime I go to a movie I come home at least twenty dollars poorer.
        A lot of the newer books on kindle are 9.99 each, of course 7.99 is better, but remember, on kindle we get a trial sample for free. I’ve only done that two times, for me I just buy them and read them. I don’t expect that every book I read is going to turn out to be the “best book ever”. But I really am glad that decided to try Renewal, and yes, the reviews made me download all 10 parts before I read any of it.
        Keep writing, please. You have the knack of making people care about your charactors…and that, for me, is everything.

  5. Hi Jim,

    I stumbled upon Renewal on Amazon a couple if days ago and has been reading the series non-stop since then. Lost a few hours of sleep over the past two days, but it was totally worth it. I guess I was lucky that I did not have to wait at all for the last chapter =).

    I just want to say, though, that you spin a darn good yarn!! I love the characters and the realism of the story. I always imagine myself to take on woodworking at some point – I like building things but I’m only building digital stuff for now – maybe when I retire or something.

    BTW, I love the author’s notes at the end of each chapter. Not sure if you can keep the format if you release a full novel at once, but I really like the honesty and transparency in the experiment. It gave some insight into you (as the author) and I think it made me appreciate the series more.

    Anyway, I ramble. First time I’ve done anything like this before. Just want to say again – keep writing, you can count me as a fan and I can’t wait for your other books =)

    • Hi tobagus,

      Thank you. I appreciate your rambles and kind words. Yeah, I’m pretty transparent these days. I find it simpler that way. I’ve learned a lot through the Renewal serial phase. I think you’ll find a bit higher level of polish in the sequels and the rewrite – maybe a touch more sophistication as well. I’ll let you decide before long. I’m working hard on the entire story and putting my final touches on Decay.

      What kind of digital stuff do you build? My current daily brain decompression method is flying a Parkzone Vapor R/C plane. I go out in the afternoon and run a couple of batteries through it. The whole 3-channel affair weighs about 15g and is powered by a pager vibration motor. It can be flown in the living room, but then Jay (Dog 4) tries to snap it out of the air. Low speed fun, and a long way from the duct-taped monstrosities I flew as a kid.

      Thanks again!

      Jim

      • I code backend stuff for a website – which means my skills will be entirely useless in a Renewal world =)

        I decompress by reading books or playing video games (when I can) – been trying to find and support new authors via the Kindle ecosystem – it’s amazing what gems you can find for a buck these days, though it’s still hit and miss. Yours was definitely a hit. I’ll find sometime soon to add to your reviews on Amazon, too.

        • You’re not the only one with a set of useless skills. 🙂 In fact, I don’t even need a Breakdown. Just a good old economic slump made my graphics career fairly useless. I’ll take it as a sign that I should write.

          On the other hand, I was lucky enough to grow up with a father who taught me a lot of basic skills. I try to keep those skills from getting too rusty, just in case.

          I find books and video games to be a good escape too. What kind of games do you play?

  6. You name the price….I’m buying it! I am totally hooked on your style of writing. I can actually picture myself in some of those situation years (or even months by the way things are going) down the road. And I’m a total prepper to begin with. I feel like I can learn from your ideas/writings. Keep writing…I’ll keep buying!!

  7. I am looking forward to your next books with great eagerness! I would be willing to pay regular book prices 9.90 to 15.99 for the books. You write really good stories and keep the readers hooked. I had no problem with the 99 cents per segment either. However, I do understand that the higher prices make it difficult to hook new readers. Good Luck with finding the right balance.

    • Thanks! I was never comfortable with $9.90. That was just the way it worked out. I expected Renewal to take eight parts instead of ten. 🙂 Lack of experience… Anyway, I think regular published book prices defeat the purpose of independent ebooks, and serve to feed a whole chain of people, rather than just the author. The novels will come in well below published books prices.

      Once I go from ebook to print, however, everything changes. The printed books have a high unit cost in small print runs, which means I would need to charge close to $20 once shipping is included. It could go down with a large number of orders, but probably not as much as you might think. There are a few authors who can get me to buy a $27 hardback, but not many, and that makes it hard to justify a $15-$16 trade paperback in my own mind.

      One of the biggest disappointments in exploring the print option is the cost of the Createspace print-on-demand option. From a distance, CS looks like the obvious choice in terms of convenience, integration with Amazon, etc., but the unit cost is too high for me to even consider at this point. The print shop twenty minutes down the road beats them in every way.

      So really, the trick is to fit the cost of the actual copy, the time involved in preparing for print, the time in fulfilling orders, and the delay for the actual printing into a reasonable time and price.

      I’m still sitting on the fence for print, but Renewal in revised novel form and Decay will be out pretty soon. We’ll see how my novel pricing works out. Thank you for the vote of confidence.

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