Free books, and other tantalizing sweetmeats

I finished writing my fifth novel - the Art Forgery Novel (working title) - just before going on vacation to Scotland. The book came to about 72k words, which is about average for one of my books - or at least has been so far. It was a relief to get it written after so many years. The manuscript has been hanging around in the background since 2005. What remains now is my going over it and editing it into shape. This might involve some rewriting but, on the whole, I am very pleased with the way it has turned out.

I also enrolled my other books in Kindle Digital Publishing's Select scheme which allows me to run promotions on them by making them free for up to five days. At time of writing, about 150 readers from the US and 25 from the UK had downloaded "Muscle for Hire" from Amazon for free. The idea, of course, is to stimulate interest in the novels, so that customers who read the free book will then go on to read my other books. There is also the vain hope that more people will write reviews of the thing. Actually there are two reviews of Muscle for Hire online at Amazon, both of which are great, so there is room for hope of others.

Both of the above activities - the marketing and the writing - are just a couple of the things that make the whole enterprise of being a writer interesting. One of the main advantages of publishing independently is that you have more control over the process, from the writing of the book to its eventual sale. One of the other big advantages is that royalties for independently published works are always higher that you would get publishing through the more traditional route.

According to reliable sources, the chief elements in whether or not a book will sell once its published come down to these four:
The cover - it has to look professional. I've been experimenting with different covers to see whether sales are affected.
The description - it's one of the things that potential buyers will most look at.
The price - too high and nobody will buy it; too low and earnings will be too paltry to make any difference.
The quality - this comes down to not just how well the book is written but how well it is edited and formatted.
Strangely, marketing is not listed by these reliable sources since there are copious examples of writers who became bestsellers with zero effort put into marketing. That said, could a case be made for "luck" being a factor? I don't know. There are very few if any reliable statistics show decisively what are the main factors in selling books. Similarly, the number of books you have published will obviously be an element in how much cash you can hope to glean from sales.

For now, I'll continue to experiment with various factors to see if any of them seem to affect sales. I'll keep you posted... eventually.

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