Tips from a Sisters in Crime Panel on EBooks

In a Pens Fatales blog post last week, I shared my news about forming Gargoyle Girl Productions and publishing my first novel myself. Since then, many people have asked me if I'd be chronicling my journey. I'm doing tons of research and taking lots of notes, so I thought I'd share my journey here on my new blog.

Yesterday I attended a panel on eBooks put on by my local Sisters in Crime chapter. Since my immune system is low from chemo, I donned my opera gloves (shown at left) and told my friends they'd have to take a rain-check on hugs for a couple more months. But I'm so glad I attended! I'm going to be publishing my books as both print books and eBooks, so it was helpful to hear what successful eBook authors had to say.

The authors on the panel were Simon Wood (mystery and horror), Bella Andre (romance), Dana Fredsti (mystery and zombie-fiction).

My Key Take-Aways from the Sisters in Crime NorCal Panel on eBooks:
  1. Everything in eBooks is changing so quickly. What was true last year isn't true today, and what's true today won't necessarily be true next year. 
  2. Covers are just as important for eBooks as for print books. If a current cover isn't generating sales, research your audience and change your cover. It's also a good idea to have a similar style for all your covers in a series so that readers can immediately see it's one of your books.
  3. Blog tours are the flavor of the moment. But before overcommitting yourself, think about how long it takes you to write a witty blog post, and decide if you'd rather be spending more time devoting that energy to your books.
  4. Paid advertising works in some cases. You need to be sure to target your particular readers. Research your market and see where you might want to place targeted online ads.
  5. The thinking on pricing eBooks changes over time, so stay current with your pricing. There's lots of different thinking on pricing, and there are also different audiences who think a book has value at different price points. The one thing the panelists agreed on is that giving away your eBooks for free to begin with to gain readers isn't a successful approach. If you start off free, people won't like the switch to being charged.
  6. For your eBooks to gain the most traction, you need to have lots of books available. If a reader likes one of your books, they want more, and if you've got other books available it's easy for them to get more at the click of a button. 
  7. Novellas are a viable eBook form. Unlike in print, novellas are very popular eBook downloads. They're also a great way to have time to write more eBooks for your eager readers.
I'm especially pleased about the last point, because my natural style of writing is short. It was a stretch for me to write two 75,000-word novels, but I can write much more quickly when writing shorter fiction. I've got rough outlines for several more Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery stories, so I think I'll write some of them as novellas.