Here’s a tidbit: The PG13 edition of The Awful Mess: A Love Story — which is the only one up there — has 22 sample downloads at Smashwords and zero sales. This means that 22 people who probably didn’t know me at all (since I’ve never mentioned or linked to that version) were interested enough to try it, but not interested enough to buy.
Now, this little data point doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot. Smashwords readers may be an odd subset of people. There’s an awful lot of erotica there, for example. (But would those readers click on PG13 in the first place?) There’s also an awful lot of Christian romance (they might try PG13, but they’d probably be turned off by this book pretty quickly).
I could also try lowering the price and seeing if that makes any difference. Believe it or not, $3.99 is on the high side for indie-published e-books these days.
Still, batting 0 for 22 sucks.
Can I get anything out of this tidbit?
For one, it suggests that the cover and sales blurb can’t be too awful, but what these folks read just isn’t grabbing them.
I wish Amazon would let me know how many people have clicked “Preview this book,” but it doesn’t. Of course, at Amazon it’s unlikely anyone would ever see it in the first place, unless they’re browsing Episcopal fiction, the one category tiny enough that my book sometimes appears on the first page.
I’m beginning to realize exactly why so many agents felt this was a good book but a hard sell.
Because it IS a hard sell. (Doh!)
Even some of my kindest reviews point out that the first chapter suggests Mary’s life is going to be about nothing but cats and isolation.
To me that’s a clear signal that it will be anything but — which obviously doesn’t work as well I’d hoped. I’m still not sure how I could avoid that and still set up what I want to set up there.
(You can be sure I’m thinking a lot harder about how to make sure the first chapter of the NEXT book grabs any reader I can get in a choke-hold.)
So my expectations for this novel have been usefully lowered even further than they were when I started this experiment.
But onward and upward. Maybe one of these books one of these days will break out, and then the others might find their audiences, too. Or maybe the next novel will offend enough people that it will attract more attention. (I’m afraid I’m not joking about that.) Or maybe I’ll just continue to sell to a very, very small group.
And that’s fine, too.
Thank you for being part of my very, very small group!