Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Blurbage: does this blurb make you want to buy? (It's Always Darkest)

Today is the first of my Operation Mallory blurb posts. Steve's books have great new covers, you guys have been blogging all over the net and we've seen thousands of tweets/ likes/ emails.

But, as Elle Casey says the trifecta of awesome for eBooks is cover/blurb/sample. We've tested the cover - it's been through split testing, and we struck a balance between 'most clickable' and 'best fit with the story'. I highly recommend people adopt split testing as one of their methods prepublication - if you know a cover doesn't work, change it (which we did).

We had some debate about the cigar - it did divide opinion. The final call was to keep it in - because it's important to the story.

So, let's assume the cover is fine. Let's also take it as red that the sample is where it needs to be, just so we can focus in on the blurb.

Here's what Steve's got for book #1, It's Always Darkest:

Small-town sportswriter Paul Mallory doesn't need much to keep him happy: Red Stripe beer, H. Upmann cigars, and enough money to put down a few bets at the track every so often will do the trick nicely. He likes his quiet, undemanding life in upstate New York, and he really likes his quiet and undemanding girlfriend Pam. Maybe he even loves her. 

What Paul doesn't like is travel, complications, and most of all, responsibility for the welfare of others. But when his insatiable curiosity—along with a propensity for showing off—gets the better of him one fine June day, he has to leave his old life (and Pam) behind to take on a lucrative new job; a job he never really wanted in the first place. 

Then, on his very first assignment with the mysterious Cramer Press Syndicate, Mallory immediately finds himself in the spotlight at a Russian handball tournament and must decide whether to become personally involved in the biggest story he's ever covered—putting both his career and his life on the line in the process. 

Whatever he does, he'll never be the same again.

I always think there are 3 golden rules to writing blurbs -
1. Introduce the protag
2. Set up the conflict
3. Do that quick enough to get and keep the reader's interest.

It tick box 1 straight off, and it does set up the broad conflict.... but it doesn't give us any detail about it. It's very non-specific. Paul is a journalist, he's reporting on Russian handball. Should get involved?

While it does give us the plot, I'm not sure it's got the same level of tension as the book itself. Underselling can be useful - it makes buyers happy, but we need to have buyers first.

Remember that a blurb is sales copy. It's job is to get the reader to look inside, grab a sample or buy the book. It's not the right time to be getting into detail.

My opinion - cut the first two paragraphs. Cigars, beer, a girlfriend. None of it screams "thriller".

But the plot is very tense. We've got not merely a handball tournament but a decapitation - and the infamous Russian White Nights.

So let's flip it upside down - and skip the basics to get to the action.

When sports journalist Paul Mallory is sent to cover a women's handball tournament for his first assignment with the Cramer Press Syndicate, he expects a working holiday - beer, sports and gorgeous women.
But then the woman he was due to interview is found brutally decapitated, and Paul finds himself not reporting the news, but becoming a part of it.

Now, this isn't perfect. It's a quick 30 second mock up. but it does most of what the original does. Conflict, tick. Curiosity value, tick. Protag introduced, tick.

What do you guys think? Can you do better? Leave a comment if you can!

Monday, 14 April 2014

#OperationMallory Update #1

Hi all,
The response to our plea for help on behalf of Stephen C Spencer has been staggering. We've already seen 20+ blog posts go live, and hundreds of you have been tweeting us on #OperationMallory. There's a huge list in the original post acknowledging your contributions. If I've missed you, please let me know so I can add your name to the list.
Before the public phase of Operation Mallory, we did a lot of groundwork - the new website, the new covers and preparing for this public phase. Now, we've got even more to do.
In the last 24 hours....
  • It's Always Darkest (Book one in the Paul Mallory series) has gone live on Smashwords. It's free, and you can pick any format you like. Grab that here.
  • A series facebook page has been set up.  Many thanks to those that have already liked it, and a big thank you to Clarissa Yeo for designing the header graphic.
  • All the covers have been swapped over on Amazon
  • We've added to the #OperationMallory google drive folder. It now contains a couple of banners (including one specifically for the free book) and an author headshot.
We're still waiting on some retailers to go live. Once they do, we'll update the Links pdf with the new information. We're also still waiting on Amazon to go free on It's Always Darkest. If you fancy popping over to your local Amazon store and telling them it's free elsewhere then feel free. They don't typically price match Smashwords, but it's not impossible. To do that, click "Tell us about a lower price" which is roughly half way down the product page.
The other big ask is reviews. If you're a reader then please consider trying the free book, and leaving a review when you're done - good or bad. We'll be submitting to a number of thriller book blogs this week now we've got the new files with the updated art, but every single review is helpful.
Here's what we're doing in the immediate future to help Steve:
  • Preparing a media kit - Q&A (from older interviews), series info, review extracts, 3rd person bio. That'll go in the folder.
  • HTML ready blog posts - optimised for Blogger & Wordpress. We'll try to put up a few options with different content. Again, those will go in the folder.
  • Optimising the product page. That means using all the spaces available in Author Central on Amazon, working with Shelfari to expand the Book Extras and updating series information. One easy change that'll pay big dividends is putting the series info on every page.
  • Updating the website with more and new content
  • Making sure the reader experience is perfect. This means minimising front matter and making sure the format conversions haven't introduced new errors. Amazon use .mobi but other stores use .ePub, .PDF, .rtf, .lrf, .pdb and .txt files. We need all of them to be perfect.
  • New print versions, using the shiny new cover.
  • Ensuring professional price points in all regions. Using a $ pegged price means some regions end up with odd looking prices like £0.77. We're aiming to get to .99 in all the regions that is possible in.  Pricing controls aren't quite granular enough to do it everywhere (as the prices are broken by Amazon store rather than country) so if yours still look odd, please accept my apologies. If we ever get that level of fine control, I'm sure Steve will use it.
  • ...And generally, more promo. More tweets, more facebooking, more google plus, more pinterest, more blog posts.
We're replying to emails as fast as we can. As you can imagine, there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes.
There may be some split testing going on this week as well. We want to make sure that things like blurbs are the absolute best they can be. Feedback here, as with everything else, is much appreciated. Don't feel the need to pull any punches either - no one is going to be offended if you say "this line doesn't work for me". It's much better to identify weaknesses now and fix them, than it is to have a paying customer find out later.
I'm sure there are a few other tasks on the list, and I'll update this post if any occur to me (or, more likely, someone emails to tell me I'm missing something obvious!).
Thanks again to everyone who has helped so far. You guys rock.

Sean, on behalf the #OperationMallory team.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Operation Mallory


Normally, this blog is about offering help. We've put up our own experiences, and tried to figure out how to best maximise that elusive exposure we authors all crave.

We've talked about our books, our covers, our marketing techniques. Some  of you have tried many of them. But a technique only has value to you if you can use it, and get the same results each time (assuming quality is sufficiently high to merit a book being considered fungible). Do A, get B. That's the sort of simple, straightforward advice that we like to get, so it's the kind of advice we try to offer.

So this blog post is about a real world test of our techniques - and a request for your help in doing it.

Many of you will know Stephen C Spencer. Steve is United States Navy veteran, and a world class author of thrillers. He's got seven eBooks, all in the Paul Mallory series, under his belt. Reader reviews have been almost universally positive. In short, he's a good author with good books - good books which aren't selling.

All that makes him a wonderful test case.

But Steve also has cancer. He's suffered with a brain tumour for a while, and kept it pretty quiet. The observant among you will notice he stopped blogging and tweeting. The very observant will have noticed his twitter profile being amended...

All the authors who follow this blog will appreciate how hard it is getting your book noticed. If you can't promote, then your books go unseen and unloved. For someone in the USA (where medical treatment isn't paid for by the state), this is a double whammy. You lose income while incurring huge unexpected bills.

In the fast paced world of eBooks, it really is a case of out of sight, out of mind.  It  also doesn't help that Steve's artwork is... rather 2011. Expectations have changed, and high end artwork is now a must for any author with high hopes of maintaining sales.

Steve hasn't been able to do all the stuff we take for granted - tweets, facebook shares, blog posts, review requests from book blogs,  keeping the art current, running short term pricing, releasing new books. We're going to do it for him. Another author, the lovely Julia Hughes, has been helping me to plan a whole marketing plan for Steve. We've put together a small group of authors who have laid the groundwork up until this point but now we need to scale it up, and get everyone who loves books and knows Steve involved.

Here's the plan:

STEP 1: New artwork.

This is what his art looks like now:

These are the four novels out. Steve also has two shorts (already out), and has one finished manuscript awaiting publication (which needs some final polish).

Thanks to some very generous authors' donations, we've been able to change this already. We hired the very talented Clarissa Yeo of Yocla Designs to redo all the art. Clarissa is one of Singapore's best graphic designers, and she really knows the eBook market. We've now got new, well branded covers that look like this:
Book 1 in the Paul Mallory series - going free soon!

Book 2 in the Paul Mallory series

Book 3 in the Paul Mallory series

Book 4 in the Paul Mallory series

Book 5 in the Paul Mallory series

A Paul Mallory Short Story

A Paul Mallory Short Story

As you can see, they follow genre conventions closely - a palpable sense of danger, lots of mysterious shadows and  a strong, highly legible font.

As well as these eBook covers, Clarissa has also prepared CMYK print-ready PDFs for the five novels.

We're also unifying his online branding - so that it's consistent on all social media, the books and of course his website...

STEP 2: A new website.

Steve has been using for some time. This was his only active domain name - but,  he's now dropped the 'D' middle initial to give Mallory more of an everyman persona. So the old domain had to go.

Unfortunately, during his illness he didn't keep hold of so we had to buy it back (many thanks to the other Stephen for not price-gouging here!).

Once we had done that, we rebuilt the site. It's under construction, but what we're going for here is a clean, simple design that omits a blog. We don't know how often Steve will be able to update his site, so we want this to be as timeless and low-maintenance as possible. Part of this new site is going to involve mailing list integration, and will serve as a landing page for the books' backmatter (so readers can easily find out about the rest of the books).

Check out a book page for yourself - everything is open to feedback

STEP 3: More distribution, and the introduction of a pricing curve.

Amazon is the 400lb gorilla in the eBook market, but iTunes, Kobo and Google are all working hard to gain market share. In some regions, like Canada, Amazon isn't the frontrunner. It makes sense to get the Mallory books out to as many people as possible.

It also makes sense to try and set up a low-maintenance marketing plan. In order to do that, Steve has agreed to give away the first book for free (which will be done via Amazon price match; much like our own Dead on Demand).

We're introducing a 'laddered' approach to sales which will look something like this:

The reasoning behind this is simple - it gives readers a no-risk chance to try Steve out. It helps convert readers to fans by giving the second book for next to nothing, but moves Steve into the 70% royalty range with books 3 and 4. Frontlist (new) titles get a small premium.

This represents phenomenal value for money. $12 for all seven books, and you don't have to risk a penny to try him out. He'll be up shortly on all the major etailers - Amazon, Kobo, B&N, GooglePlay et al.

Step 4: Eyeballs

This is the last step, and arguably the most important. We need people to see the books if we have any chance of moving copies. We're going to do this via:
  • Social media - twitter shares, facebook posts; facebook groups, G+ groups, Pinterest etc 
  • Blog posts - cover reveal, review stops 
  • Press releases - on re-publication 
  • Media interest - as a local interest story in Indiana, as a success story (we hope!) 
  • Review copies - as many as humanly possible 
  • Targeted advertising

This is where you come in. Operation Mallory has a very small warchest - provided by author donations - to place a very small number of adverts. These are going to be targeted to the websites we found success with - because Steve writes in a similar genre, so the audiences will have crossovers. That means BookBub, FKBooksandTips, ENT, Booksend, Fussy Librarian, Freebooksy etc as the budget allows (if anyone wants to see the full plan - email and I'll ping a copy over).

But this isn't a big corporate campaign. We need your help. If you've got a blog, use social media, review books, or know people that do, we need you. We need space to tell Steve's story. Help us spread the word about the free book - there's no hard sell here. Steve isn't looking for charity. You get a fantastic free book, and Steve gets the chance to make a new fan.

If you're an author, we'll even throw in a value-add. Tell your readers about Steve and his books, and we'll give you space to talk about your own books here at It gets a couple of hundred unique hits on quiet days, and has had significantly more on busy days. It's not a big blog, but it's free if you want it.

So if you can help, comment here or drop me an email on

All the files you need to take part in Operation Mallory, and some exclusive Helper Rewards, can be found at

If you can't help, please consider sharing this post/ those files with a friend who can.

Many thanks,
Sean, Dan and the rest of the Operation Mallory team.

With thanks to all the wonderful Operation Mallory supporters (in no particular order)...
Charlie Plunkett, Author
Ava K Michaels, Author
Clarissa Yeo,Yocla Designs
Izabel Brekilien
Rosie Amber, Author
Charles Yallowitz
Kat's Indie Book Blog
Wicca Witch 4 Book Blog
John W Howell, Author
L K Jay, Author
Doreen Cox, Author
S K Nicholls, Author

Are we missing your blog post/ facebook mention/ tweet about Operation Mallory? Leave a comment, and we'll get you added.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

What is a brand?

A brand, at its most basic, is a mark that identifies something. It could be a name, a symbol, a slogan or pretty much anything that distinguishes the thing being identified.

For authors, branding is simple:

· Brand by author

· Brand by series

· Brand by book

Harry Potter is a brand. So is JK Rowling. There can be a degree of overlap in that something can have multiple identifying marks.

Sticking with Harry Potter, that could be

· JK's name

· The Potter name

· The book covers

· The lightning scar

· That music at the start of scenes in the film

All of them are brand because they're unique to Harry Potter, and they distinguish Harry Potter from other books/ films.

So, to carve out your brand you need to know what you're branding. What is YOUR unique selling point? Good books are different from what's gone before. Great books are unique (though we may still draw on past literature in creating that new unique thing).

What you brand is as important as how you brand. People have to want the thing you're offering for that brand to have any value. In law, a brand is the promise of an experience.

My brand is simple - British police procedurals set in London starring an aging cop with an eidetic memory. You pick up a Campbell Bros book, you get a taste of modern London, a look at how and why crimes are committed and what happens when the police investigate.

But I can't stick that statement on every book. So I brand my series - by using similar artwork, keeping the fontwork the same, staying to about the same length.

I can protect my brand - the execution is copyrighted. I could in theory trademark my series name - though that comes with headaches as you have defend a trademark.

The simplest way to brand is to be consistent - unified artwork, same names on all social media, and a domain name that reflects it.

I can't emphasise that last point enough - your domain name is your digital presence. If you're an indie author, your big market is probably eBooks. It might be almost all of your revenue. If you can't be found on search engines, you'll lose business.

There are costs - if you want everything looking the same, you'll be tied to one artistic style if not one artist. Changes are expensive - as you'll be changing everything at once.

And if you choose badly, you can brand in a negative way. Think budget car brands of the 70s - a brand is a promise of an experience. That doesn't say anything about the quality of that experience.

Next time - we'll look at what makes a GOOD brand versus a mediocre one, and give you an idea of what work and costs are involved.

See you next week (back Tuesday).

Monday, 17 March 2014

Éire go Brách! Two years, already?

Morning all, and a very happy St Patrick's Day!

Today marks the two year anniversary since that fateful bet. It was exactly two years ago that we set out to write a book in ninety days. Our only aspiration was to prove it could be done - and we did.

We made mistakes. We rushed things. But two years, and hundreds of thousands of copies later (note to taxman - most of them free), it's proving to be one of the best stupid/ drunk decisions ever made.

We've now got two novels out that we've co-authored: the titular 90daysnovel, Dead on Demand and its sequel Cleaver Square. On top of that, we've released a should-be-free marketing guide (that's being updated soon), a few short introductions to legal skills and published half a million words in blog posts on everything from publishing to economics to human rights.

Book three in the DCI Morton series in underway - and we're well on track to keep up a one-a-year release there, as well as various pseudonymous projects. The reason we do other stuff is to even out the downloads - publishing is subject to extreme swings in sales counts. Dead on Demand's best hour equals its worst eight months. It's that extreme.

OK, I might be exaggerating for effect, but you get the gist. Top 250 for a few days can be as many sales as 50,000 for a full year. If you've only got one novel, as we did for a long time, then your royalties swing with that pendulum. Over time, the combined average of a backlist should stabilise things and make it easier to plan.

We've said in the past that author remuneration is odd. Authors put in months or years up front, and, in a digital age, can take years to get paid. Money used to be front-loaded - advances were often all the author got, and even if they earned out the bulk of their royalties were usually earned in the first few months post publication (though perhaps not paid for a while thanks to withholding for returns etc).

I'll be totally honest, because this is an author focussed blog. It will take a long time before our books match our 'non-author' earnings potential. We've explained why before - the short of it is that an author's portfolio is back-loaded. Right now, we have two novels. In 20 years, that could easily be 25 or 30 novels.

Guess who has the bigger sales potential, the guy with one book, or the guy with twenty plus? It's pretty obvious that an author's pay is often delayed gratification. But if you can make it through the lean early years, then the potential later on is enormous. Proper planning helps - if you write in series, the book to book retention rate increases each time. Lee Child sees a reported 80% of his readers return to a sequel. That series loyalty is one of the reasons that he's a household name.

We're way down the sales curve from Lee, but we have been fortunate enough to grace the top 100 Crime, Mystery and Thrillers list here in the UK a few times with Dead on Demand, and we often rank in the niche sub-categories. I love the little categories - they make finding a reading niche really easy. If you want Scottish Police Procedurals, Amazon will serve you up a list of best 100 (small hint, they're all Ian Rankin...).

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be doing a few author-focussed posts again. We're starting tomorrow with the question 'What is branding for an author?' and looking at the high level stuff. In a digital age, it really comes down to your web presence and how it comes accross, so we'll go through a few simple techniques on how to maximise both your reach (the # of people who see you) and your appeal (the % of your reach that like what they see). It'll touch on a few nitty gritty issues like SEO, but only just - we're not here to bore the pants off you.

So, thanks for a great two years - here's to many more.

See you tomorrow!

Dan & Sean

Friday, 7 March 2014

Getting Your eBook Cover Right

Covers make or break book designs. That tiny thumbnail in an Amazon search, on an also-bought page or on a bestseller list is your first and best chance to hook a reader.

A cover's job is simple: get the reader to click on it.

No more, no less. It isn't a retelling of the story. All it needs to do is set the right tone, and get the reader curious enough to read the blurb/ check out a sample or click buy.

Bad covers get no love. If you've made it in paint, you probably won't sell many - you're telling a potential reader that you don't give a shit, that you aren't putting out a professional product.

Mediocre covers are graphically competent, but they're not targeted. If you want a thriller reader, you need the cover to scream "Thriller readers will love this book". 

That means sticking within genre conventions:

· Genre appropriate colours - so red, white and black for thrillers (or horror)

· Low key lighting on the subject to create intrigue 

· Dark backgrounds to emphasise intrigue and unsettle

· Appropriate fonts - condensed, clean and highly legible; sans serif for maximum legibility. CAPS for titles are common

· Don't overdo the content - it isn't a montage. Thrillers are about suspense so the cover should be as much of an enigma as the contents

Of course covers are highly personal, but they should always be broad strokes - in the most basic way, they need to tell us what the story is about. Detail can be added, but it should be an extra layer (and if you're doing print versions, extra detail is needed).

Once you've got a concept, treat it like any other marketing item and SPLIT TEST it. Send variations to multiple people, and see which comes off most favourably. But don't ask opinions willy-nilly. Ask people who are part of your target demographic. If you're selling a thriller, ask thriller readers.

Then back it up - a great cover needs support from a great blurb and an outstanding sample. Make it so interesting that they absolutely have to know what happens next. Make it so they'll die of curiosity if they don't read on. Then deliver on that curiosity with the twists and turns that make a thriller great.

But remember that if your cover is crap, you won't be selling because readers will have passed over you before they even land on your book's Amazon page.

But, I hear you ask, how do you know if your cover is crap? The simple answer is, you test it. Then you test it again, and you keep testing it until you get it right.

There are lots of way to test things out. You can ask on book forums. You can ask on your mailing list. You can ask other authors. All offer something, but opinions are innately subjective. Data isn't.

Let's say a thousand people see a poster (Poster A). Fifty take a closer look.

Next to Poster A is Poster B. The same thousand people see it. A hundred take a closer look.

Objectively, poster B is better than poster A. Advertising isn't about just art. Something can be pretty, clever and original buy miss the mark. Covers are about expectations - it's about saying "this is what I'm selling". If you follow your genre's conventions, and have a concept that is striking, you'll get the views.

I test covers. I'm testing one right now. I do that by placing adverts showing the cover, and linking it back to the book's Amazon page (or a website landing page). I then run that advert for 10,000 impressions plus to get a reasonable data sample, and compare it to other cover options. I use advertising venues like Project Wonderful (subject to genre appropriateness) to do this.

I'll put up several concept, and measure performance. If one gets a CTR of 2% and another manages 4%, I'll go with the 4% cover. Then, I'll split test again by changing a couple of elements (like font or colour) and see which performs better. Then do it again, and again.

An average CTR on a banner ad style spot is 2% on adwords or similar. I've seen 1.3-3.4% on two split tests I've had today. My best have seen 7-13% using very targeted keywords.

For things like Facebook, that CTR average drops to more like 0.13%. So benchmark your comparisons using the same venue as if you compare Facebook to Project Wonderful, you'll be comparing apples to oranges. Like anything scientific, change only one variable at a time so you can isolate cause and effect, and use a statistically significant sample.

Match your graphics to the right ad venue too. I've seen covers that are beautiful and work well at full size in a blog post, but are dire when they get used on Amazon. That was because Amazon display covers at a tiny proportion of their full size - on the page, in bestseller lists and, on also-boughts and in search listings (in descending size order).

Then think about display changes. Some people shop on e-ink devices, so if you have something that works in colour but no in black and white you will damage your sales potential.

There is no clean way to weight each element - but you might guess what proportion of your target market shop in each way, and then aggregate your split test results by device. That'll give you a good idea what does, and doesn't work.

But, don't overdo it either. If you're paying by the hour for graphical assistance, or have a niche book (which could be a small genre, or it could be a smaller market like novellas) then limit your investment in split testing to a reasonable level.

Some genres work better with some designs - symbolic versus literal, big font versus curvy etc. Some designs won't replicate so well from eBook to print (don't forget to get RGB for display and CMYK for print). Others fall down if you change aspect ratio (such as for an audio CD).

Then there are regional considerations. A cover optimised for the US market may not do as well in the UK due to genre expectations. 

In short, know your target market and cater to them. Don't rely on your gut - test everything. Always strive to improve, but keep a tight rein on costs because art can easily eat away at your royalties.

Take a look at the evolution of our first cover - from initial sketch to final product (all images done by Nadica Boskovska - shout if you need her contact details).

Current version

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Free/ BookBub/ 133,000 downloads!

Dead on Demand was featured by BookBub last night. It was already doing pretty well in the USA thanks to a Kindle Nation Daily feature, but BookBub has kicked up a notch and landed us at our current #3 in store placement.

We reported on the 10th (just six days ago!) that we'd shifted 38,000 copies of Dead on Demand in February.

That figure now stands at just shy of 71,000.

Throw in our 'Jan' freeloads, and our 5 day Select run from 2012, and the lifetime freeloads of Dead on Demand now stands at approximately 133,000. That is absolutely insane - that's two or three packed football stadiums worth of people (or 17 very small countries!). At peak last night, people were picking it up at the rate of two per second. That's some serious exposure.

Now the flipside of that is the cost. BookBub charge $200 to authors for a free feature in their Thriller list. To make that back, we need 600 or so sales at 99c. That's a fair number of sales by any account, and it's only a break even calculation. If we wanted to make say $1000, then we'd be talking about 3600 sales at 99c (which rather confirms how unsuitable 99c is as a long term price). If you think about that as an average royalty per copy, then $1000 for 3600 sales + freeloads is a fraction of a penny.

So how many freeloads do we credit BookBub with?

Pre-BookBub Feb stat 46,000 freeloads

One day later: 71,000

Gain: +25,000

But, not all of those are BookBub. Some we would have got anyway (we were already top 100 USA free, and top 10 UK free). Based on the 46k in 14 days already managed, we can easily discount 3-4k of those freeloads.

That gives us a net gain of over 21,000 freeloads.

A typical read rate of freeloads is roughly 20% based on our historical data. We can therefore expect perhaps 4,000 people to actually read Dead on Demand.

If 15% of those who do read it like it (and keep in mind the BookBub list is targeted by genre so these guys are predisposed to like our stuff) then we break even. If less than 15% like it, we lose some money. If more like it, we gain a little.

Our potential loss is $200.

Our potential gain (based on 90% of the BookBub readers liking it enough to buy the sequel) is $1,000.

My gut says we'll be comfortably in the middle and make a few hundred dollars. It's not pay the bills money, but we're not aiming for that now. What we're trying to do is build a fanbase to buy later works (which will have to be priced higher than 99c to be financially viable - it doesn't make sense to spend thousands on production costs like editing and art in the hopes of making a few 99c sales; $2k costs = 6000 sales just to avoid losing money. Add in interest, time invested, and suddenly you need tens of thousands to make minimum wage).

We're reasonably happy with our results. We're bound to get a few low reviews out of this - by hitting top 10, people not disposed to British crime novels will pick it up anyway, and then they won't like it. That could cause a problem if we reverted to paid, but for free it's not much of an issue.

For now, our 99c for two books offer is gaining some traction. We'll keep at it while we work on book three, and monitor sell through closely to minimise our risk of losing money.