Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Tweaking the blurb

One of the great things about electronic publishing is the ability to iterate changes quickly and at minimal cost (no cost, really) to one's currently selling eBooks. Log into your seller's account, make your changes, hit 'submit', and wait a day or two for the changes to go live. It's really as simple as that.

I decided to apply this principle to my novel, The Five Elements. Sales have been ho-hum at best. But of the feedback I've gotten from Amazon comments and elsewhere, the overall vibe is a good one. There's only so much I can do to convince people to buy the eBook (or print edition). I think the story is good and the writing quality is on par with any other novel out there. A couple of things I continue to consider is (1) hiring a professional artist to do the cover art and (2) looking at KindleNation or a similar site to advertise. Before I try either of those things, though, I want to try something that's all on me and doesn't cost anything: tweaking the blurb.

When I say 'blurb' I'm merely referring to the description of the novel typically found on the back cover or in the 'Description' for online retailers. You can read the original blurb for The Five Elements here. That one was more focused on the friendship between the two main characters, which is integral to the story, but also doesn't convey the larger storyline that will take this novel into books 2, 3, and beyond.

So, here is the new blurb. I'm updating the various online retailers now, so it should be live tomorrow or the next day.

A factious group of learned men calling themselves Elementalists once endeavored to blend scientific machinery and elemental magic. Their ultimate goal, lost to time now, never came to fruition as those they'd separated themselves from judged their actions as blasphemy of the worst kind. The Elementalists were offered no mercy; they were hunted down and killed to the last. Of their inventions, all were thought destroyed...

Until, some five hundred years later, one is used to launch a devastating elemental attack on the city of Norwynne. Aaron, scholar, alchemist, and sorcerer's apprentice, survives, only to bear witness to the resulting fallout and to his dearest friend, Shanna, as she is swept into oblivion. Aaron thinks Shanna killed, while Aaron himself is forced to flee for his life. For Shanna, who survives that fateful night, the greatest adventure of her life is about to begin. Only the worst of nightmares awaits Aaron: pursued by dwarves, hell hounds, and a demon who will not stop until he is dead, the only thing keeping him alive is his own resourcefulness and an eslar mercenary whose reputation as a killer might make him the worst threat of all.

Though Aaron and Shanna travel different paths, their purpose is joined when they individually learn of the mysterious Fifth Element. Shanna sees it as the final piece in the puzzle that is her destiny. To Aaron's logical mind, it is an impossible ambiguity. Whatever the answer, the Fifth Element draws them back together and into a final confrontation not as allies, but as adversaries.

 

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The Five Elements - 16. Cauldron Mountain

Back in early 2011, I serialized The Five Elements chapter-by-chapter. The individual posts had thousands of viewers, of which I am appreciative. However, since that time, I enrolled the novel in Amazon's KDP Select program. One of the conditions of this enrollment is that the electronic version of the novel remain exclusive to Amazon. This means this serialization needs to go on hiatus. If you would like to read the novel, please head over to Amazon where you can purchase the Kindle or print version.

The Five Elements - 15. Wildemoore Manor

Back in early 2011, I serialized The Five Elements chapter-by-chapter. The individual posts had thousands of viewers, of which I am appreciative. However, since that time, I enrolled the novel in Amazon's KDP Select program. One of the conditions of this enrollment is that the electronic version of the novel remain exclusive to Amazon. This means this serialization needs to go on hiatus. If you would like to read the novel, please head over to Amazon where you can purchase the Kindle or print version.

My Indie Sales Strategy

I guess I never came out and said it, but I've gone indie. There's a lot of reasons for this, some of which I might get into in a future post. Suffice to say that after examining traditional and electronic publishing, writing a whole series of posts detailing how to self-publish on various platforms, and, finally, coming to the realization that it's really a personal choice (there's no right or wrong here) and that the right choice for me is indie, I've fully embraced the concept.

Two of the more immediate challenges I'm facing as I jump in are (1) generating more titles to sell and (2) getting people to buy the titles already out there and then leave a (hopefully favorable) comment. The consensus amongst my peers is that the more titles you have for sale, the more you'll sell. Of course, writing a novel takes time, and there's not much to do about it other than to get cracking. With regard to #2, if you poke around the Amazon discussion boards you'll see plenty of posts like this one where the poster recognizes the challenge indie writers face and wants to help out by reading and reviewing his/her book. Judging by the number of authors responding to such requests, I'm guessing this is a challenge faced by indie writers en masse.

So what's a new, unknown indie author to do?

In the past, I've alternated between offering my first fantasy novel, The Hall of the Wood, for free as a PDF download and selling it here and from various retailer web sites. Upon the completion of my second novel, The Five Elements, I decided to serialize it a chapter at a time on this blog while simultaneously giving away the novel in its entirety along with selling it through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. There's been some experimentation, tweaking, and price adjusting along the way, the end result of which has been that I have a strategy that at least gives me a clear direction for the immediate future. How effective it winds up being remains to be seen.

So, this is what I'm doing:

1.) Serialization

The serialization of The Five Elements is already underway. I just posted Chapter 13: The Hounds of Hell last Sunday. I'm debating whether to also serialize The Hall of the Wood. I probably will once The Five Elements is concluded. The goal here is to promote the novel while hopefully gaining some readers for my blog, for my books, or for both.

2.) Free PDF download from this site

Both novels can be downloaded for free from my web site. You could say this is a preemptive strike against pirating, but I'm not well known enough for that to be an issue right now. The truth is that I'm giving them away for free to gain readers. Price is sometimes a barrier between a consumer and a product; free eliminates that barrier. There is, however, a personal request that comes along with each download: At the beginning of each novel is a "Note from Author" page that asks the reader to go to one of the retailer web sites where the book is sold and to leave a comment once they're finished. Reader gets a free eBook, I get a review. Seems like a fair deal.

3.) Free PDF download from Scribd

Both novels are posted to Scribd as PDF's where they can be downloaded for free. The versions are the same ones I offer here, so you wouldn't gain anything by downloading from one versus the other. The reason I've got them out on Scribd is because I figure each retailer/outlet has their own audience. A visitor to Scribd isn't necessarily going to know about my web site and vice versa. So I figure if I give away my stuff there with the "request for review" author page attached, I might just get some feedback.

4.) Sell eBook versions on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords

Yes, there actually is a "pay" option in this strategy of mine where a reader would have to part with some cash and I might actually make a little money. Both novels are available on Amazon as Kindle formatted eBooks, Barnes & Noble in nook format, and Smashwords in a variety of other formats (see links on right for all options). I expect to get most of my sales from Amazon and B&N, but Smashwords distributes to a number of other retailers, so it's good for reach if nothing else.

5.) Sell print versions

I've been eBooks all the way since I started this venture, and especially since I got a Kindle. But I also recognize that many people are still only interested in traditional format books. So, as of pretty much now, The Five Elements is available in a print edition. I wanted to go through this process with one of my novels first, so The Hall of the Wood is lagging a bit, but it will also be available as a print book pretty soon. I'm using CreateSpace as my POD provider; so far the process has been time-consuming but rewarding.

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That's it. Only time will tell if this strategy works. I'll post progress in a few months.

The Five Elements - Chapter 10: A Change of Fortune

Back in early 2011, I serialized The Five Elements chapter-by-chapter. The individual posts had thousands of viewers, of which I am appreciative. However, since that time, I enrolled the novel in Amazon's KDP Select program. One of the conditions of this enrollment is that the electronic version of the novel remain exclusive to Amazon. This means this serialization needs to go on hiatus. If you would like to read the novel, please head over to Amazon where you can purchase the Kindle or print version.