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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Is a movie anti-tie-in a marketing strategy?

The numbers for some of the retailers carrying my books have started coming. There is a significant delay, in comparison to Smashwords which reports sales immediately – or even Amazon and Barnes & Noble which provide monthly and end of week reports.

Of course, I knew these numbers are behind the sales, but it gives me an idea of how it starts…

At the moment, I only have numbers for Sony. Apparently there have been 84 sales for the cookbook.

Over at Amazon, last week I sold 143 copies of the cookbook.

I chose to take this as good news, although to be quite honest, I have no idea if this is normal (there apparently is no “normal” in ebooks) or dismal (but how could it be?).

It is still too early to try to determine what the numbers think, but I believe it is important to document it so I have a better idea of how this works.

I just entered a few promotions that might result in some attention for the novel. I wonder if I can do an anti-tie-in: “It’s cheaper than a ticket to Horrible Bosses!” 

Then I started thinking, Kevin Spacey would be an awesome Edmond Styles! An author can dream...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Do Not Try This While Hungry!

Writing a cookbook can be a lot of fun but it is also a little frustrating.

Personally, I want to introduce my readers to ingredients they might not usually consider. But you want to make it relatively easy and palatable, so that they try new things. Most people are not very adventurous about food.

That timidity can be conquered with a little intelligence. If you tell someone exactly what to expect, they’ll be more likely to try it.

The frustration is trying to find the right recipes in a sea of options. Also, I only write about recipes I have tried myself or tasted and liked, so my own prejudice comes into play. It goes without saying that you should never write about it or research it while hungry. That is just self-imposed torture!

The challenge with volume two of the Kali: The Kitchen Goddess series is that I am picking foods or ingredients from virtually every continent! That is a lot of stuff to consider.

So far, I have tried to include vegetables, rice, side dishes, desserts, drinks… It’s taking a lovely shape and I am so incredibly hungry!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kindle Sales Rule

Amazon has taken all the action in sales lately. The first two weeks in June there were 177 sales of the cookbook; but nothing for the short story or the novel.

Over at the Nook store, there’s hardly any action with one sale of the short story.

At Smashwords, the downloads of the cookbook stopped at 1499 and one sale. The novel has sold 6 copies and there are still 46 downloads. The short story is still at 19 downloads and no takers.

Clearly, it is time to do another round of marketing and I am considering a few strategies for July to generate some interest. As soon as I have a concrete plan, I’ll post it here. I know I have not explored every marketing and publicity tactic available to me, so there is still a probability that I can turn this around.

Of course, that is no guarantee that it will affect sales but we’ll see. This remains very much a work in progress.

Reviews remain elusive… It’s time to try review blogs again!

In the meantime, my Kindle people are running the show.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Like a Beached Whale

It is not a pretty image: that of a beached whale. But we do not have air conditioning and today was the third day of a heat advisory. Torment is the most I could commit to these past few days. Seriously, this is weather only Sylvia Plath would love because it just couldn’t make her any more suicidal!

I didn’t even feel human through most of it but imagined myself literally a wilting flower, occasionally hit by a blast of indifferent and slightly warm air from my little fan.

After a mighty thunderstorm, the temperatures lifted a bit and I was able to get back to the new cookbook. It is awfully hard to write about food when you don’t want any. It’s even harder to write about deep frying when it is over 100-degrees!

Other than that, the only work I did in the last few days was a note about monkeys in the steampunk novel. (I grin devilishly as I leave that sentence hanging and not explain it further.)

I tried to read, but in my delirious state I am not sure how much of it I retained.

Now, I will go back and try to jot down another recipe before the heat returns and paralyzes all the action.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Best Guilty Pleasure, Ever!

It has been two months, give or take a few days, since I began this journey in self-publishing. I said it then and still maintain that this is a marathon and not a sprint. It goes without saying that any success is a great accomplishment, considering the competition and that I am new at this.

It’s early in the experience, but I want to track it here because I am learning as I go and hope that I can share my successes as well as my mistakes with those who also wish to take a plunge.

The numbers are not the most important thing, but it does allow for at least one kind of quantifying tool to value how well a book is doing. Let’s face it, if it doesn’t sell, it hardly matters whether it is brilliant or not. It is sales that drive more sales, reviews and word of mouth. Promotion helps and the price determines the willingness for readers to take a chance with your title.

Smashwords’ downloads seem stuck at 1498 for the cookbook, 43 for the novel and 18 for the short story. Over at the Nook Store, I’ve sold 3 copies of the novel. The Kindle Store has been the great revelation in the last couple of days. There I have sold a total 9000 units of the cookbook, 3 copies of the novel and 1 short story.

If these numbers are any indication, the idea to publish a second cookbook is the most rational. And at the end of the third quarter, I will actually get royalties paid out!

I just posted a “summer reading” entry in both the Nook and Kindle boards and we’ll see if there are any takers. It is time to release another promotional campaign, but I am probably doing too many things at once, especially since I have been feeling a little under the weather.

It is still too early to get numbers from the overseas distributors, but I am curious as to how well the books will do outside the U.S.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

If God sends you lemons, make lemonade...

In the last week of May, Amazon posted sales upwards of 5800 units of the cookbook. The downloads at Smashwords for the free version are at 1500. You may set your price at Smashwords, with a suggested price of $2.99.

This is good news, not only because I have a few dollars in royalty building up, but because I am 13 pages into the follow-up volume with the working title Kali: The Food Goddess, Fruits of the Family Tree. (That is not the cover, just a placeholder.)

Researching your heritage in culinary terms can be eye-opening and sometimes a shocking experience.

Geez, no wonder they left and never looked back. Ewww!

On the other hand, it is interesting to see how colonialism influenced other cultural cuisines. Fusion is not as modern a trend as the media would have you believe.

As with the first volume and the food column that originated it, I will only share recipes that I have tested or tasted. If I won’t make it or eat it, I will not share it. Thankfully, I am not necessarily finicky or it would seriously limit my ability to write about food. There are some foods and cuisines that are not palate friendly for me, but that millions of others enjoy. Other authors can tackle that stuff.

My ancestors come from a variety of places, but their cultural heritage was not necessarily carried through to my generation. In these instances, I have shared what I know and like or a good facsimile created by the very fusion that made me possible.

I am a great proponent of multiculturalism. Not only do we make pretty babies, but the combining of food traditions produce spectacular results. I hope to make that clear in this new book. And I hope to have it ready for sale before the end of summer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

First Victory!

I had a doctor’s appointment this morning. Ironically, on the TV in the waiting room they were showing “The Doctors” – explaining how doctors don’t “overbook” the way patients believe they do. Waiting for hours is nothing more than the result of unexpected emergencies that arise during the day. Of course, at this point I had been sitting there for an hour and a half waiting to get pricked with a needle and further enhance the awesome experience by peeing in a cup . . . all before having my first cup of coffee!

When I left the office, I had to take a nap. I awoke and found a message that the cookbook had reached #1 on Amazon. That tickled me, of course. The real kicker was that I shared the top of the Kindle gastronomy downloads with one of my favorite books.

I had a second review in Amazon, but it was an indignant accusation that I dared use the image of the Goddess I was named after and that I am not even Hindu. Of course, the person who wrote it probably has no way of knowing that my paternal great great grandmother, Veronique Narine, was born in Madras. This is immaterial because the review ignores the entire content of the book so its usefulness is moot. Another user chastised the first one for the review. I will not get involved.

This cannot take the small victory away from me: Kali and Flaco Sitting atop the List! Talkin’ about e-a-t-i-n-g!!!