Episode 105 – Long Days, High Prices, and Doing It All

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Question of the Week: How would you be willing to change your life to sell two million ebooks? Could you stand the 14-hour days? Why or why not?

Back from rainy Austin, Bryan and Jim beamed about their fun and educational experience at the Smarter Artist Summit. After thanking their latest patron Jamie Arpin-Ricci and his book The Last Verdict (available at http://bit.ly/lastverd ), the troublesome honorary texans took on tips about free books, niching down, and using short stories in anthologies. News stories included $27 ebooks, YA superhero books, doing it all, using genre-specific covers, providing ebooks to the masses, and putting in 14 hour days. This week’s Question of the Week: How would you be willing to change your life to sell two million ebooks? Could you stand the 14-hour days? Why or why not?
What You’ll Learn: 
  • What Jim and Bryan thought about the Smarter Artist Summit
  • Why free books still work for a series
  • How to target readers more effectively
  • What you should do with short stories
  • Why a $27 ebook won’t fly with readers in any genre
  • How trad pub is trying to create a high-flying YA bestseller
  • Why you actually haven’t tried everything
  • How important it is to put the right cover on your book
  • Why a free government ebook project may not get the job done
  • What it really takes to sell two million books
Links: 
Question of the Week: How would you be willing to change your life to sell two million ebooks? Could you stand the 14-hour days? Why or why not?

get show updates

  • jamiearpinricci

    Love the show. Thanks for the shout out for “The Last Verdict”.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Jamie! And thank you for becoming a patron.

      • jamiearpinricci

        Well worth it. You guys have been a source of much learning.

        If you ever check out the book, let me know what you think.

  • Spider McGee

    QOTW: That sounds like a lot of work. I might be willing to do 7-hour days to sell 1 million books, if I can get the time off from the Burger Shack. Also, I’ll need that money in advance. When can I expect my check?

    • Bryan

      2-3 weeks.

  • Nicolette Pierce

    I work the occasional fourteen hour day if under deadline. I would assume it’d be a hard schedule to maintain and would cause burnout. I have to get out, play, live a little or the quality of my fiction work suffers. How can an author write about life when all they do is sit behind a computer? But, if they can, then kudos. All the best to them. P.S. I’m a newer listener. Love the show 🙂

    • Bryan

      Welcome, Nicolette! Glad you’re enjoying the show. Yeah, I agree with the need to “live a little.” I hope Rachel Abbott gets to enjoy the fruits of her labor!

  • Connie B. Dowell

    QOTW: 14 hours a day! Goodness, personally, I’d rather work normal 8 hour days, have time for my family, and grow my audience and business slowly. My goal is a nice mid-list income and being there for my husband and son and any other little ones we may be lucky enough to get. This business allows me to be a work-from-home parent, but parent is the most important part of that equation.

    • Bryan

      Great points, Connie!

  • Daniel Martone

    As authorpreneurs, we already put in 10+ hours a day but I’d never want to put all of that into marketing especially when most successful authors say the best thing you can do is to write your next book.

    • Bryan

      Yeah, I still wonder exactly what she does during that 14 hours and if any of that could be outsourced.

  • Laura Martone

    Thanks for the shout-out, guys, re: the Smarter Artist Summit in Austin – Dan and I enjoyed meeting you two as well! You were both as nice, smart, and funny as expected, which is definitely a good thing! As for the question of the week, I’m with Dan (my hubby and publishing partner). Although I’m not afraid to put in long hours, I believe in finding a balance between work and play. Like yin and yang, it’s hard to have one without the other. Making time to relax, travel, and have fun with my partner in crime helps us both to stay inspired and maintain productivity without experiencing the dreaded burn-out. As a travel guide author, I used to burn the candle at both ends to meet deadlines – until I realized that it was no way to live. So, even though I strive to produce and sell as many books as possible, I don’t want to be a stressed-out mess to do it – and while I’m impressed with Rachel Abbott’s numbers, I’m okay with being a little less successful if it means having a happier, more fulfilled existence.

    • Bryan

      You’re welcome. Yay happiness and fulfillment!

  • QOTW – two million as a self-published author with 70% royalties or a traditionally published author with those royalties? 😉

    …but yes. Between day job, consulting, and writing, my hours are already long.

    • Bryan

      Haha, self :). Yeah, I hear ya.

  • Eddie Jakes

    Feel like I’m always defending RA Salvatore lol!! To add some background to Jim’s point. The Drizzyt books are all written in an established Dungeons and Dragons realm so even before he begins to write he already has zero ownership of the work, even though he created a lot of the characters and story. I dont know for sure but i think hes paid by contract to write books for them at set rates. Wizards of the Coast are used to being able to charge $40-$50 for their gaming sourcebooks so it doesn’t surprise me that they would try to bank on the fanboy nature of their core audience.

    • Bryan

      Hehehe. Good point, Eddie, but WOTC should’ve known better for fiction :).

      • Eddie Jakes

        Can’t expect too much… it’s Hasbro. Can’t get much more corporate than that.

        • Bryan

          The best of the best ;).

    • I don’t feel like anyone was bagging on RA Salvatore, but on his publisher. I think we feel bad for RA.

      I think if they were going for the $40-50 price of gaming sourcebooks they would have also charged $40-50 for the hardcover. I think in this case, the publisher wanted people ‘encouraged’ to buy the hardcover over the ebook. Maybe they thought they could hit a bestseller list, but didn’t understand the reader backlash/ramifications of their ridiculous pricing actions.

    • Good point on the $40-50 thing. I don’t think it fits in this case, but I wanted to address your point separately, because I see that a lot in the fitness industry, both with indie authors and small publishers.

      A trainer recently produced a beautiful 300 page FULL COLOR training book and then was angry at Amazon because Amazon is ‘purposely screwing indie authors by making sure we can’t produce books cost effectively.’

      In order to make any money at all, the trainer had to charge $50, which wasn’t a big deal until he realized he only made a couple bucks for each book. He says it’s on purpose, but just doesn’t understand how much it costs to produce a print on demand color book. He refused to make a monochrome version because his book deserves color.

      The trainer also charges $24.99 for the kindle version because “I’m not giving away my work.” I think he wanted to go even higher, but Apple lets you prices as high as you like and still get 70%

      He is trying for a publishing deal which ‘will fix all of that.’ I tried to explain that royalties would be even smaller over there, but he left the group in anger.

      Maybe he’ll find a small press that will be willing to overprice the book!

      • Eddie Jakes

        The Createspace cost isn’t too bad. Has he tried buying a bulk order and selling them himself? Most of those books are usually selling tools anyway aren’t they?

        • I think he does a bulk order, but they are still about $20 each to him, plus shipping. 300 pages of full color isn’t cheap unless you print in China.

          Full color printing in CS is really costly. My wife does cookbooks in Bulgaria, but when she wanted to produce an English one here, it prices the books out of the market. Color POD is too high for thicker big books using current print technology. If CS gets into the high speed inkjet market, then maybe, but that’s a big undertaking.

  • Sheenah Freitas

    Authors being hired to write in other worlds isn’t a newfangled thing. Marvel actually beat DC to the YA space (they seem to always be beating DC in spaces recently), but that’s mostly because Disney owns both Marvel and Hyperion. That being said, Marvel’s first novelizations were for She-Hulk and Rogue, but their novels got some huge traction when Margaret Stohl was hired on to pen Black Widow. Shannon and Dean Hale will also be writing a novel for Captain Marvel, slated for next year. With DC now throwing their titles into the space, I think it’ll really make the YA superhero genre explode, which as of right now, has mostly been an indie-only space.

    As for QOTW: Being an indie author, I already work really long hours since I have to juggle a day job on top of finding time to write. Working 14 hours is admirable, but not something everyone can do, including me. I used to work 12 hours consistently, but I just got burned out, so I’m actually reversing my policy and working less hours and finding myself to be more productive because I’m conscious of how I spend my time.

    • Bryan

      Didn’t realize about Marvel doing it first, Sheenah. I agree that working less can have the effect of making you focus on what’s really important. Thanks!

  • I don’t mind the long days so much. I already work a day job and then write before work, during my lunchbreak, and after. The thing I’d have trouble with would be constant social interaction. As an introvert, that takes a lot out of me. I agonise over conversations with strangers (friends are a different matter).

    So I’d want to put those hours into the writing more than the social aspects.

    • Bryan

      Completely understood. You can do plenty of marketing without the social interaction though.

      • That’s true. It’s why I have a podcast. Broadcast interactions are more comfortable and I don’t get hung up on things I say on a podcast like I do with social media threads 🙂

        • Bryan

          I get a lot out of just emailing people or just chatting with them on podcasts. Even without meeting them, I’ve still been able to forge some great relationships.

  • I’ve struggled with this question. The simple answer comes down to ‘if I knew the answer to that I would already be pushing in that direction’. I understand long hours and saying no to low priority requests. Time management remains my biggest obstacle at this point in my writing career.

    • Bryan

      Haha, I hear you, Edwin. It’s the “two-million book” question.