Hear the Roar of the Crowd . . . Uh . . . Where Did the Crowd Go?

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Link for Ichabod Brooks!

So, Ichabod Brooks has been out for 10 days. People are complimenting the cover, loving the character, excited by the excerpts, and even enjoying the behind-the-scenes posts I do here.  He’s been called relatable and many have asked if I’m going to write more stories with him.  This response really makes me happy after all the hard work I put into him and his stories . . .

Also, confused because I’ve only sold 9 copies.  (This line is going to cost me with the ‘you need to quit’ crew.)

Now, I know I haven’t done as much promotion as Legends of Windemere, but I have put more hype into it than Chasing Bedlam.  Some of this is due to saving money for the last 2 LEGENDS volumes and not having a laptop since late June.  The rest is because Ichabod got such a big reaction on the blog that I thought I could garner enough word-of-mouth and pre-hype to boost the book.  It really felt that way until I paid attention to sales and ranks.  Now, I’m not sure what to think.  Maybe Amazon isn’t showing me all of the sales like other authors have reported.  It does feel hard to believe that I only got 9 after people were so excited.

Still, it isn’t like this is the first time.  People were pumped for Bedlam when they saw excerpts with Lloyd and Cassidy.  After I published, I started hearing how the characters were fun, but the violence, language, and comedy weren’t for some of the original supporters.  This threw me and made me more cautious about the compliments and praise I get.  Still, I thought it wouldn’t happen to the same extent with Ichabod since he was fantasy and ran in the same vein as LEGENDS.  In reality, it hasn’t gone this way because nobody has complained about him and suddenly claimed that he isn’t for them.  This is an understandable reaction though because not everyone is into action adventure in general, which is what I write.

Here is where I mention something that people might not realize or forget: I AM A FULL-TIME AUTHOR!  Unlike many other indies, I’m not working another job beyond parenting here.  I’m writing or at least outlining nearly every day because this is the career that makes me happy.  So, I have to factor in a lot when I decide on projects to put my time into.  When people cheer for an idea, I’ll follow it thinking I have an audience.  If that excitement doesn’t pan out then I’m left confused and a little worried.  Did I misjudge the reaction?  Are people cheering just to be nice?  These questions throw doubt into a mixture that already has a heap of anxiety and pessimism in it.  I need to figure out the answers in order to move one, especially when I struggle with these:

  • Do I continue Bedlam even though it gets better blog reactions than sales?
  • Do I write another Ichabod Brooks collection if this one doesn’t net more sales?
  • What are the chances of my next series doing well since it seems nothing is reaching the same level of success as Legends of Windemere?
  • Is 2017 the last year?

I’m not making a fortune here and it seems to have become more difficult since last year for some reason.  Most of my royalty money goes back into marketing or is kept for emergencies.  Like Ichabod, I need to make a living and I’m trying to do it with the skills that I have.  Unlike Ichabod, I’m lacking something that is drawing in enough success to ward off the naysayers.  Yes, I think people should write for art and the joy, but there is the business side that always trips me up.  Part of that is getting responses from fans and seeing where the wind blows.  Not easy to do if the wind I’m following is actually a ceiling fan that somebody keeps playing with.

Honestly, I don’t know what I expect to solve with this post aside from getting this off my chest.  I’ve talked to other authors who have run into the same problem.  They have an idea that people love and support, but then the sales don’t come in.  Have we become a society that loves to cheer and support with words, but stop short of taking that final step of purchasing?  Is everybody waiting for books to drop to 99 cents or free?  I’m really not sure where the break in the bridge between social media excitement and hitting ‘purchase’ on Amazon is.  Like I said, it’s both confusing and has become rather disheartening over the last year.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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49 Responses to Hear the Roar of the Crowd . . . Uh . . . Where Did the Crowd Go?

  1. I don’t have much to offer here. I think we have to write what we’re personally passionate about. Then some of the passion bleeds onto the page. I look at sequels as something that must be earned. So far nothing has merited a sequel. My notebooks are different, and I don’t apply this recipe.

    Here’s a strange one for you. I’m promoting the heck out of my new book right now, and it’s doing fair for mid-summer. What are really moving right now are both Experimental Notebooks. Readers seem to be seeing my Enhanced League promos and buying the Notebooks. Weird?

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    • Seems we disagree on a sequel since I think they should be planned beforehand. If you end a book on a cliffhanger and don’t do a sequel then the people who did support you will be annoyed. They might not give you another shot. So, the alternative would be to never write a book that clearly opens for a sequel. This can cause a stretching of the plot when people think it’s already been completed. Again, that’s just where I’m coming from.

      I have noticed the ‘Legends of Windemere’ books took an odd uptick. I wonder if people think they have to read those to get to Ichabod. Still, it doesn’t really explain how it felt like I had so many people excited to get the book and only 9 did it. That’s if none of the 9 are strangers who reacted to the promos.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I try to end on a “happy for now” note that doesn’t close the door to a sequel. I kind of think I should see some folding money before I revisit the characters for another year. I like your idea, but would call those books a series as opposed to a sequel.

        One of the nice things is that Notebooks seem to drive interest in my novels. They are staged for this too, but it seems to work.

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      • I always thought a sequel was simply Book 2. There really isn’t a popular word for books that only have a 1 and 2. I’ve been told that a lot of series don’t get hot until the 3rd or 5th book too, which causes trouble with the earning stance. You have people in the audience who want to see if you’re going further than one book because they want to invest for more than a single read.

        I’ve been told to write short stories with the LEGENDS characters. I guess I can see how it would sell the books, but there just isn’t much there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I define it this way. A sequel is a stand alone story using the same characters and setting, but reading book one is not required. You can do that with Sherlock Holmes, but not with Frodo Baggins.

        You can steal my recipe, and write a bunch of new Windemere short stories; even micro-fiction. Use new characters and get folks interested in the world and magical environment. Make sure to add one Ichabod story, and one using a character from the larger Windemere series. Then include an intermission or end material that explains the whole thing and asks for readers to explore the larger stories. Toss it out there for cheap and see what happens.

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      • Got it. Don’t think I have anything like that. Not sure if a second Ichabod Brooks compilation would count. Short stories are strange creatures when it comes to series.

        The tough part with that is I have tons of new characters from different walks of life. They just happen to have their own series and exist either prior to LEGENDS or become active afterwards. These characters have their own series coming up, so putting them in something else before that debut seems like I’m robbing them of the big splash. As far as the big series characters, I think I put myself in a bind there. All of them are kind of busy, so I’d have to go with prequels. There’s not much weight there and I’m always concerned I’ll do something that undermines part of the main series. Like how Legolas was in ‘The Hobbit’, but never told Gimli that he met his father in LOTR. Basically, Windemere is such a network of tales and connections that tweaking has repercussions.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dwell on it, and something may occur to you. I would think something like a side adventure away from the main group. I always recycle one novel character, and out of blind luck Jason Fogg got into both Notebooks.

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      • Honestly, I’ve been dwelling on it for years. I can’t really do a side adventure away from the main group because of the timeline and plot. The times it has happened has created books like The Merchant of Nevra Coil and The Mercenary Prince. It gets tough with a series because you can’t have the side adventure do anything that disrupts the main plot. If that happens then you’ve just made a bigger mess in the hope of getting some sales. I’m obsessed with continuity and making sure I don’t create problems for myself down the road.

        For example, what happens if Sari goes off to investigate a rumored survivor of her clan? She’d have to travel away while the others stood still, which exposes them to danger. Unless they have their own adventure, but then I have to write that one. Not to mention if Sari would go off on her own anyway. You also have the issue of her character arc getting altered. If this happened between two already published books then it would have to be noted, but it’s not. So it’s almost like something that didn’t happen in the first place. This is the problem with series that have such intricate webs. Pulling at one strand can cause trouble for another.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Got it, and that makes sense. What about one of them goes for supplies and has a town adventure? What about the villains who might not appear as often? A litch might make a fun lead character.

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      • Funny that you mention the villains considering ‘Path of the Traitors’ is coming in September. Most of the villains are loners and don’t really lend themselves to solo stories. For specific reasons, the Lich is even harder to do. I guess I’m always iffy on town adventures too. They don’t have much variety if you’re only doing a short story with no weight behind it. Not to mention the champions are celebrities at this point, so the usual misunderstandings are harder to explain.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You can do the old sales trick the California car dealer used to do. Buy a car and I’ll… usually it was eat a bug or something stupid.

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      • But couldn’t that lead to the same problem? One person buys the book and I eat the bug. Then nobody else does or they do a return. Much of this is about how much an author can trust that the excitement will turn into sales.

        Liked by 1 person

      • What was the other one someone tried? Buy this book or the bunny gets it.

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      • That does sound familiar.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve noticed the same thing: people are quick to cheer and congratulate, but generally seem to be reluctant to buy copies of the books they’re so pleased we’ve written and published.

    In some cases it’s a funds issue. People are cheering for several authors, and can’t always afford to buy copies of all of their favourite authors’ books. I know that’s not always the case, but it is with many people. It’s my reason for not having copies of every book of all the authors I like and want to support, anyhow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah. It’s that last financial step that people pull back on. Think I’d handle it better if someone said, “I think your idea is great and you should publish it, but I won’t pay money to read it.” On second thought, that sounds a lot meaner than I expected.

      I’ve considered the fund thing. Another factor here is people promising out of knee-jerk reactions. This is more about reviews because I’ve had multiple people say they loved ‘Crossing Bedlam’ and wanted to give it its 10th review. Thing has been at 9 for over a year.

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      • I know what you mean on both counts. The low sales figures wouldn’t seem so bad if they weren’t just a small percentage of the sales expected judging by assurances from people that they’d buy the book, and reviews are even harder to come by than sales. I make a point not to count either before they’ve happened, and take every assurance from someone that they’ll buy a copy of one of my books with a pinch of salt, so to speak.

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  3. ionia martin says:

    I do agree that people cheer and then disappear, and there are likely a variety of reasons. I think sometimes they like interacting with an author, regardless of whether they intend to read it, purchase it or not. If you look at how many people have hundreds of books on their reading devices they want to get to but never do that probably says something. I know I’ve had people tell me that they want to buy a book I’ve released after they clear out other titles. Yes, this is annoying, but I try to keep in mind that the group of followers I have are relatively small when held in comparison to the great wide world. There will always be people who buy our stuff that we don’t know. That’s my market as far as I’m concerned and the others who do follow us help with that by reblogging and sharing on social media.

    I’ve learned not to take promises of purchase too seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m definitely learning that lesson with purchases and reviews. Need to remember to wait until people say they actually bought it.

      As someone who has hundreds of books that he has to get to, I get that it’s hard to keep up. I still try to buy a copy of books that my friends put out to help them that way even if it takes me years to get to the book. It’s interesting how people will wait until they clear space on a Kindle. You don’t hear that often with physical libraries.

      A big source of my worry is that I’m looking at what things will be like when LEGENDS is over. Will people try my other books or is that where I started and will end?

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      • ionia martin says:

        I don’t think you have to worry too much about typecasting. There’s always a larger audience out there. I try to focus on what people do for me by getting excited about my work even if they don’t buy it. A nice comment is always an ego booster and can be the difference between writing and not writing that day.

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      • True. It just gets frustrating when I see all the compliments and hype, but then that evaporates soon after the book is released. It makes it hard to gauge what I did right and where I have to improve in terms of marketing.

        Comments are turning out to be better ego boosters than reviews too. Think I’d have better luck swimming across the Atlantic than getting one of those. :/

        Liked by 2 people

      • ionia martin says:

        Reviews are hard. I had a few thousand copies of a book downloaded last weekend. So far I’ve got three reviews, but hey, it’s a start. Amazon changing the rules all the time doesn’t help.

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      • Those rule changes really made a mess last year. I seem to lose a review or two every 6 months too. I remember my first free weekend that had nearly 3,000 downloads. Got maybe 1 review from that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ionia martin says:

        I think the constant fear of change…hello kindle unlimited…is the worst part of being a full time author. We are always dangling precariously.

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      • Kindle Unlimited is really strange these days. Especially with how people are gaming the page reading system.

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  4. N. N. Light says:

    Hey Charles, good post and you hit on something that most authors have an issue with, me included. I’ve had so many people rave about the love poetry book and then it doesn’t sell, even when I put it on sale. I used to get mad about it and while I’m in a different financial situation than you, it still gets frustrating. So now when someone spreads buzz about one of our books or promises to purchase it, I don’t believe them, People are busy and are strapped for cash. I get that and I’m one of those readers who will buy a 99 cent or less book, filling my tablet to capacity. But I don’t tell an author I’ll buy something when I have no intention of buying it. *shrugs*

    I keep writing and so should you. I know it’s desperate times for you but at the end of the day, you’re a storyteller and a brilliant one at that. 🙂

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    • I’m hoping to keep writing. Getting tougher and tougher it seems. Then again, I’ve spent the last 17 days without my own computer, so I should factor that feeling in.

      I’ve done the same with not trusting a person until I see it. Yet, I just got an email from someone that they bought a copy a while back in a market that shows no copies sold. This is something else I considered. Amazon systems might not be very good at cataloging sales. At least I hope it’s an accident.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Me again. I came back to surf through the comments, because it’s an interesting topic. You have to account for time too. Iona and Victoria skirted around this one. I have no problem buying a book to support someone. In many cases, I know I can’t read it for years in some instances. A dozen hours of my time is too valuable to me, so the book has to have something going for it before I can read it. At the risk of sounding mean, can I buy a copy to support and not read the actual book? Maybe I should start buying e-copies of Lisa’s guests books and giving them away to one lucky commenter.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I get that and do it myself. I know my free time is extremely limited, but I hope the purchase can help the author stay afloat for a little longer. That’s where this frustration comes from because I feel like I’m not even getting that. Another factor is that Amazon might not be updating quickly. Somebody emailed me saying they bought a UK copy when it came out, but Amazon doesn’t have any Ichabod sales for that market.

      I’ve seen a lot of people do the ebook/paperback contest for guest author posts. It’s a great way to get more comment activity.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes and no. It brings out the prize chasers who have no intention of reading either. They just like to win things. It can also silence comments from those who don’t want a copy of the book. We have a bit of experience here via the Story Empire crowd and some of our pushes. It’s all a balancing act. Sometimes an attempt works and sometimes it falls flat.

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      • I’m wondering how often prize chasers show up on blogs. You would think it’s more common on Goodreads because blogging requires them to follow and put more effort in. Although, one trick I’ve seen is to not mention the contest in the title and only put it at the end. That way only those who read that far will know.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a fair trick, and then more interested people will take part.

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  6. L. Marie says:

    I wish I had good advice for you. I’m hesitant to say I was one of the nine, though I was, because it feels awkward. I’m sorry the book sales have been discouraging. I’m glad though that you won’t give up.

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    • Thanks. Though, not giving up is getting harder and harder. Eventually, I’ll have to consider what to do if sales don’t improve. I’m hoping that finishing ‘Legends of Windemere’ will cause a big rush since there wouldn’t be any risk with the series. At least not in the way that it will never have an ending.

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  7. I don’t have any advice since I run into the same situation. I’m working on trying to get into a wider world of readers but that takes time. I bought it so that I can put up a verified purchase review.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s a tough situation here. Most of the people who follow our blogs are fellow authors. We are, for the most part, a supportive group and I am happiest when encouraging others. That being said, the real target for our books are avid readers. I’ve picked up dribs and drabs of sales from blog posts, but, unfortunately, the biggest hits on my books come from paid ads on evil places like Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, I usually spend more than I make. My goal is to be a full-time author as well as I approach retirement age in the next 10-12 years. That being said, I’m trying to be realistic that I may need to supplement that with editing and formatting services and (shudder) ghostwriting so that we aren’t eating cat food and living under a bridge. I try to support other indies by picking up and supporting their books. Craig Boyack and John Howell have been authors who’s writing I have enjoyed a lot. I’m working my way through one of Lucy Brazier’s books right now. Charles, you are next on my list. My reading time is not as ample as it used to be as I find myself falling asleep more easily these days, but I will get to you and help spread the word.

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    • Never tried a paid ad on social media. I hear a lot of people say they spend more than they make. Always happened to me on Amazon ads, which has me iffy. Do we have to promote the promotions to get them to work?

      I’ve been told to get a part time job, but that still has the issue of time. Having a kid and lack of privacy are big factors here. Adding even a part time job to the mix means writing falls away. Makes me realize why most authors I meet are either retired, single, or the kids are teens.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s a struggle. As someone who works 50 hours a week and travels 45 weeks a year, I’m lucky to get 2-3 books squeezed out in a year. Perhaps if you look into writing related work that can earn you extra income and allow you to stay home, that might fill the bill.

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      • I had a few jobs with the long hours, but mostly it was the ‘exact’ ones. Those jobs where you had to check in and out on the dot because god forbid you went 1 minute over 40 hours. That was always stressful if the clocks weren’t matching up. Then you have to show your boss the clock you went by to prove there was a discrepancy. I might look into typing jobs that can be done from home, but they’re hard to come by these days. Transcription is another option if I can find a place. My current focus is to get the main series done though.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Believe me, I hear your frustration. I’m happy to send some editing jobs your way if you wish. And yes, Amazon can take bloody forever to update their sales data, no matter what they say.

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