Sunday, 12 January 2014

What's next for DCI Morton?

With Cleaver Square now almost 3 weeks old, it's time to talk about where we're going next. Times are changing. Subscriptions models are starting to gain momentum, and for now the prolific authors are the most successful. The 'one hit wonders' are few and far between, but the slow and steady authors are caning it.

By now, many will have realised what we said a while ago: kindle is no gold rush. There's more money to be made selling spades than panning for gold. A whole cottage industry of artists, editors, formatters, narrators, and translators has popped up. Many of them will do better than your average author.

We've not done too badly. Your support has seen Cleaver Square flit in and out of bestseller lists on three 
continents. We've had strong support not only in England and America but in India, Canada and Australian, so a huge thank you is in order.

2014 is going to be a make-or-break year for many. To produce a book, and do it properly, takes a great deal of resources - both time and money. But at any given moment, around 40,000 authors are giving away part or all of their catalogue for free. Every month, 50,000 or more new books get thrown onto the market. Getting just one book to stand out is incredibly hard.

Free is still the #1 most downloaded price point, which is no surprise. How many of those downloads get read is anyone guess. But free gets visibility, and it can make a decent profit for the author if they are careful.

Consider our books right now. One is $2.99 and the other is 99c. That's $4 for two books, a bargain.
Out of that, we get 35c on the cheaper book, and $1.95 or the more expensive title for a total of $2.30 between us.

If we split the same pricing differently, we can make more without it costing the reader anything. One book for free, and the other for $3.99 (ok, that's 1c more but we hope you don't mind that!) then we get 70% on the whole lot. After a few cents for the delivery fee that's $2.75.

It doesn't sound much, 40 cents. But those 40 cents do add up. Over a lifetime of say, 10,000 downloads (which is fairly reasonable over 50 years plus), that's $4k. That sort of download total is entirely doable - 50 years is 18,250 days. Shifting one copy of each book per day would make those 40c add up to about $7,000 gross. After tax, and a 50/50 author split, that's an added $2500 each - without costing readers a penny.

That sounds like a no brainer to me.

So here's where we're going next. We're re-editing Dead on Demand so it's stylistically more similar to Cleaver Square. That's a little more in the way of back-story (but not too much - we like the pace), and adding little touches like chapter titles so that the reading experience is consistent. Branding is all about consistency. If you go into McDonalds, you know what you're getting.

We want to give readers the same security. If you buy a Daniel Campbell book, you'll get a fast-paced, well researched and tautly plotted crime novel set in London. It'll be edited to New Harts Rules, the British standard (we're British and our books are set here). The covers will look the same. Your favourite characters will keep coming back. You'll get some local colour, a bit of police procedure, some legal aspects and a bit of forensics.

Keeping that consistency means readers know what they're getting.

Once we're happy with our changes, we'll upload them to replace existing files - people who already have a copy, whether paid or free, can choose if they want to update it.

Then, Dead on Demand is going free.

We know it can get impressive download numbers - every free day we've run has averaged 11,000 or so downloads. That's a new reader every 7.8 seconds based on proven historical data.

If even a tiny proportion of those go on to buy Cleaver Square at the post promo price of $3.99 (and remember, there are 11 days left in our 99c promo!) then we'll make the same amount if not more per 'set' bought.

We know Dead on Demand will get dinged in reviews this way - but hopefully it'll prequalify readers and help readers decide if they like us enough to pay. If there's a full 80k/ 350 page novel to try for nothing, there's no excuse for buying the other one and finding you don't like it.
Amazon are making 'free' harder to find, but we still think this will be the best case scenario for maintaining a balance between fair-to-readers and fair-to-authors.

Thanks again for your continued support.

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