Tuesday, 16 July 2013

J K Rowling (& a congratulation to one of our #SampleSunday guests)

It's really tempting to jump on the band wagon, and do a J K post this week. I've never been one to resist temptation so I will.  She sold 490 copies pre-outing in hardback, and has been around the 80k rank mark on amazon.com for most of her post release time. That's 1 a day territory. Generous estimates suggest 1500 sales total.

That's with:

·         Amazing blurbs - from Val McDermid, Peter James etc.

·         A kick ass cover ( in the UK - god knows what the US designer was going for, it doesn't work for me, as a genre fiction cover)

·         Publisher's weekly review (starred)

·         Amazon vine program entry (where Little Brown give free copies to Amazon reviewers in return for reviews)

·         Massive media attention - reviews include The Times, Daily Mail, Morning Star

·         A compelling fake bio (who wouldn't want to see inside the life of a real MI6 guy basing stories off his life experiences? I think she crossed an ethical line on this one - it wasn't a mere pseudonym.

·         An audiobook narrated by no less than Phillip Glenister

·         A generous 465 page length

By almost all accounts, it's a great book. But it didn't find a market in the first 3 months. That says alot about competition in this market. You can have a great book, all the marketing expertise of Big Publishing... and still not sell.

I've not read it (yet), but I probably will out of curiosity. Now a really humble author would never point out that Dead on Demand sold better than this (without any promo budget to speak of - you guys know we did it all on a three figure expense sheet - numbers on old posts if you want to go hunting for the exact amount)... but J K is now kicking our ass, as one would expect.

Speaking of which, our previous #SampleSunday author Julia Hughes is now rocking up the kindle charts at #19 in British Detectives with An Explosive Time. It's 99c today - over at http://www.amazon.com/Explosive-Celtic-Cousins-Adventures-ebook/dp/B007COSZX6/

Thank you to those of you that have checked out our Sunday features. We're aiming to bring you the best of the bunch, once a week at 99c or free. If any authors are reading this, and want a spot please just ask.


  1. I've been wondering about the "fake bio" ethics myself. I'm writing my current WIP under a pseudonymn. How necessary is a bio?

    1. For low - mid-list sales, it seems to have no effect whether or not there is an Amazon bio. At the upper levels, people get curious and they will try to track down the author E L James style.

      Of course, being a little wider in definition, you probably want a twitter account etc for your psuedonym. Best practice is to identify that it is a psuedonym. Where I think JK crossed the line was pretending to be a military vet using his experience. The name and gender switch have little influence on the story (other than memorability which is not an ethical issue). Pretending to be someone with particular experiences writing from those life experiences to create dramatic fiction... is basically a lie to induce sales. The US has (had?) a Stolen Valor Act specifically prohibiting impersonating military personnel. I think it would be possible to fall foul of rules preventing someone from pretending to be a policeman/ officer of the court/ peer of the realm... but otherwise, unless it's in the real of over fraud, some artistic licence is expected. That's all for fiction of course. If you're writing non-fiction, I'd avoid psuedonyms altogether unless it's polarising religious/ political work.

  2. Phillip Glenister aka Gene Hunt is the voice? For the first time, I'm tempted to get a copy.