Monday, June 01, 2015

A Great, Big Thank You!

A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to my last post. I received some great feedback, which I carefully assembled and fired off to my editor in four very long emails. I've learned so much. In the past, I've been arguing from a position of supposition; now I  have some "proof" I can point to.

My biggest takeaway is that reducing the price of the first book in a series is enormously important. I know publishers hate this because they feel it devalues books. But this is the world we live in.  Even readers who've heard good things about an author via word-of-mouth are still reluctant to shell out full price for an unknown author. I can totally understand this. I myself will first look for books by an untried author at our Friends of the Library book sale. I'm famous for "proctorizing" books and I get really annoyed when I give up on a book I paid full price for.  Personally, I'd love to see the price of Angels dropped permanently, but I doubt that will happen.

Many of you mentioned the importance of Book Bub ads and Kindle Daily Deals in finding new authors, and several said you'll direct friends to a sale when you see a reduction for an author you've been recommending. I intend to really, really push for at least a temporary price reduction on Angels in the lead up to the release of the next book in the series. Fingers crossed.

Many mentioned using's scrolling "Customers who bought this item also bought..." ribbon or being alerted to new books by Amazon emails. I don't think that's something publishers can control, but it's still good information to have. A lot of readers find books at Goodreads. Book blogs are another popular source, which is interesting because I've heard  authors wondering, "Do we really know if anyone looks at them? Are they a waste of time? Do they do any good?" Nice to know readers do use them.

I was also comforted to discover that many readers first discovered my books at their local library. Yay for libraries! But you know what else I noticed? Only a couple of people said they'd first stumbled upon my books at a bricks-and-mortar bookstore.

Social media doesn't seem to be nearly as important as publishers think it is in terms of attracting new readers. But several people noted that things like Facebook, blogs, signings, and newsletters are important for making personal connections and establishing loyalty.  Good to know.

So, thank you to everyone who took the time to answer my question. And if you've more to say on the subject, please feel free to let me know!

(And if anyone's curious, that's a picture of my daughter's dog playing the Game of Life. Yeah, he's spoiled. But then, he was horribly abused before she rescued him, so he deserves it.)


vp said...

Please let us know if they plan to do a price reduction or if they can get it featured as a Kindle Daily deal. I'll be happy to blast it on my blog, FB and Twitter feed. I have friends and followers who still thank me for making them aware of the St.Cyr series, so I'd be happy to spread the word.

Susan J. said...

There are very few actual bookshops here on the street nowadays. Maybe in cities but not many in my area except second hand or charity ones. I thank God for the Internet, I would have mised out on so many great authors otherwise, yourself included.

Anonymous said...

Agree with VP. Please let us know when/if Angels will be a Daily deal, as I will happily share it on my FB as well. The other place I thought of that wasn't mentioned was for audiobooks. If they would run a deal on the first one there as well, I'll bet you it works the same for the folks that "read" via listening. I know I get emails from audible all the time. Sabena

cs harris said...

vp, yes, I'll be sure to let people know, thanks.

Susan, that is so sad. There was a time the British read so much more than Americans.

Sabena, that's an interesting idea. I wonder if recorded books ever does that?

vp said...

Audible has a "Daily Deal" email just like the kindle. I often buy them because they are usually under $5. I believe I have seen RB books featured, but definitely worth checking on.

Charles Gramlich said...

Hope good stuff comes out of it.

Susan J. said...

I sent an email to a head of drama at the BBC, Hilary Salmon, asking her why the BBC keeps remaking the same old historical dramas such as 'Poldark' over and over again. I also pointed out that there are lots of modern historical novelists out there and then went on to outline a description of the Sebastian books. I said that a drama based on them would appeal to both costume drama and thriller fans. I said that Sebastian was a complex character, an aristcrat and a former soldier damaged by his experiences in the Pensinsular war, with his feeling for justice driving him to solve murders. She was responsible for the drama 'Byron', so that's why I picked her to email. You never know, maybe it might trigger some interest.

JustWingingIt said...

That's a great idea, Susan J. and I will do the same. I'll also send emails to Mammouth Screen and ITV as well. I do plan to watch Poldark when it premieres in the States in just a few weeks. I'd never heard of Poldark before but I am a fan of the actor who will be playing him in the remake.

The thing with tv (and movies) is that success in a given genre is the major inspiring factor for producers and studios to make more. So success for the Poldark remake would be a huge incentive for other studios to look around for what else they can adapt that is in a similar, historical vein. That's why I always try to support all the historical/period shows that I can. If they are not consistently successful then our hopes for ever seeing a dramatization of the St Cyr books are a lot more improbable.


cs harris said...

vp, I did not know that; thanks!

Charles, here's hoping.

Susan, thank you so much! This is my dream.

Veronica, thank you. I remember watching the old Poldark and then reading the books eons ago. You're right, the success of historicals does make the chances of seeing a St. Cyr series much more probably. Ah, if only...

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This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susan J. said...

I seem to be going through a typo period again, I meant aristocrat! I enjoyed the first Poldark years ago but enough is enough. Now the BBC are remaking War and Peace, Cider With Rosie (for the third time)and Lady Chatterley's Lover! Not to mention a dreadful version of Jamaica Inn last year. It really is time they gave some modern historical writers a chance.

cs harris said...

Susan, it really irritates me, too, believe me!

Suzanne said...

I don't find much in bookstores these days. I like a really good historical mystery and the majority seem to be coming out of the US at the moment, and we don't get US publications here in Australia. You can order them from our bookstore's websites but you have to know that they exist in the first place, and then they are horribly expensive. Who buries The Dead was $60 here. ebooks are really good for trying out new authors as if you get one of their books that is now a few years old you can usually get them for under $5. Then, if I enjoy it, I will go and buy the rest of the author's books. The libraries aren't much help because once again they don't get US publications.

The last episode of Poldark aired here on Sunday night and it was stunning! A beautifully done series. I can really recommend it for when you get it in the US.

cs harris said...

Suzanne, you just took my breath away; $60 is outrageous. I can't understand that. I can't decide if I want to watch the new Poldark or not, although you tempt me. I remember the original and the books clearly. It must have made quite an impression on me.

Susan J. said...

I iust watched the last episode of 'The Game', a BBC spy drama set in 1970's London (I believe it was shown in the US first?) and noticed Hilary Salmon's name on the credits! I was thinking maybe the actor playing Joe would be OK for Sebastian and then I saw her name. Let's hope it's an omen!
Suzanne: We have 'The Book Depository' here, which I think is an American company but has a branch here, so I've found many US writers available there, including Candy. It's very frustrating to find that Americans appreciate the Regency period more than English people do. I just saw there is a book out to celebrate the 200 year anniversary of Waterloo called 'Beaux, Ballrooms and Battles' and it's all American writers contributing and is produced in America! I may get it later, as it's 'print on demand'. All we have on the BBC is a rubbish one part documentary about Wellington, while there is a three part series on Napoleon! I really think we should honour the poor men from the allied nations such as the British (including many Irish, Scots and Welsh) and the Prussians and Brunswick Germans who died at Waterloo, in the same way as we did those of World War I last year. I think I shall burn a candle in their memory on June 18th.

Lynne said...

Candy - Don't give Poldark a pass. The reviews on the PBS website are all positive, obviously from people who have seen it, (like Suzanne), who are either in Australia or the UK. I was a die-hard Poldark fan of the original but even an interview with Robin Ellis himself convinced me that the new one will be great! Ellis has a part in the new version, too.

We're apparently very lucky in the US with books. I was feeling pretty annoyed that hardbacks are over $25 until Suzanne told me awhile back how expensive they were in Australia. Horrified was the only word I could think of. Really - do book publishers secretly want us to stop reading? How sad that a good book is out of reach for the average person. I guess that's why I'm such a fan of the library and why ours is doing so well.

Suzanne said...

Candy, I think we all be pretty certain that the authors don't get any of the huge mark ups on the cost of books down here. It is a disgrace and as far as I can see only has the effect of making book lovers like me buy from Amazon in the US (even with the postage added it stills ends up a lot cheaper) and stopping others who are less interested from reading at all. It is going to come back and bite them on the bum in time.

Susan J. said...

I suppose I should not judge the new Poldark without seeing it but as an older English person I am aware of the decline in acting standards these days. I've been buying the older BBC productions which are available now on DVD and they are so much better. The sets might be old fashioned but today it is all style over content! I just got the 1978 version of Anna Karenina, with Nicola Pagett and over nine hours it really captures the essence of the novel, which includes Levin's story, so often neglected in films, the beginnings of communism, the struggle of the Russian's with their past and future, so much more than the latest version with Keira Knightly. I also recently got the DVD of the 1960 BBC Shakespeare history play series, 'An Age of Kings' which has just come out on DVD here but has been available in Europe I believe. Wonderful actors who all served their apprenticeship in regional theatres, recorded live with no breaks, absolutely breathtaking acting, with actors taking several parts over about ten hours of plays! Nothing could be achieved of its like these days. One of the actors in it, Julian Glover, is about 80 years old now but still gives performances of Anglo Saxon poems in the original Anglo Saxon language. I don't suppose any of you will understand this but how can I convey to you how standards have fallen?

Gail said...

I just discovered all the St. Cyr books on Charles Finch's Facebook page. Periodically, he asks his fans to recommend books for him to read, and one of his fans recommended you. If I really like an author, chances are I will like others authors that he, or his readers like. I checked out a sample reading on Amazon, and am now on my 4th book of the series. Unfortunately, I read a novel in about 3-4 hours, so it is not economically feasible to buy every one I read. But, I do reread favorites many times over the years, so I will buy those I love (well-written, historically sound, and characters that are fully developed). this series falls in the "buy it" category, of course! One suggestion for improving readership: instead of a cheaper first book in the series, have anthologies of, say, three books, at a slightly reduced price from buying all three separately. In paperback (it is cheaper, and easier to read in bed!)

Suzanne said...

Oooh Susan, the 1978 version of Anna Karenina is one of my favourites too. I have seen almost all of the other versions and none of them come even close to that one. I especially liked Stuart Wilson's portrayal of Vronski. In all the other versions I have seen he is very shallow and two dimensional and he wasn't like that at all in the book, he was a very complex and sympathetic character. I thought Stuart Wilson brought that out really well. And the Levin/Kitty story was well covered too. It was fantastic.

Susan J. said...

Suzanne: I agree with you entirely! All the other Vronskis were awful but Stuart Wilson makes this version so much better. Nicola Pagett was so beautiful, she reminds me of Vivien Leigh in the old film version. Very strange that they both suffered with manic depression in real life. I think Robert Swann is also very good as Levin, a very sensitive actor. Did you see the 1981 BBC version of 'Sense and Sensibility', where he played the best Colonel Brandon I've ever seen? I looked him up on Google and was sad to see that he died in 2006 aged only sixty one.

Suzanne said...

What a pity about Robert Swann, he was a really good actor. I didn't Sense And Sensibility but I will keep an look out for it.

cs harris said...

Susan, I so agree. All those millions of men who died, and all we talk about are the arrogant narcissists who led them to their deaths. Napoleon's grand tomb in Paris still enrages me.

Lynne, I don't understand it, either. And I'll put Poldark on my list; I never seem to find the time to watch TV.

Suzanne, I would think they wouldn't sell any books. I'd love to know who adds that markup. And you're right: authors make LESS on export books than domestic sales.

Susan, I find British productions still so superior to ours, largely because the actors look like real people and can actually act, rather than being chosen for their beauty alone.

cs harris said...

Gail, thank you so much. Ironically, my editor was just suggesting I try Charles Finch (I never have). And that's a good idea about the anthologies.

Suzanne and Susan, I haven't ever seen it. Another one to go on my list....

Susan J. said...

There are also good American TV programmes, I love 'The Good Wife', it's so clever, funny and stylish.

Suzanne said...

I didn't know you actually made less profit on overseas sales. That is appalling when you consider how expensive books are here. There is a black whole somewhere where somebody is making a fortune out of them.

Charles Finch's books are really good. I grab them as soon as they come out, like your books.

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