I'll admit flat out that I'm an indie writer. Sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn't--when I fail, I fail badly. ES was a quick and easy lesson in accepting help because even when you think you've got it down, you've got blind spots. Not sure if there's a technical term for it, but I saw "good" when I should have seen "typo". It's much easier when you've got some distance. And much, much easier when it belongs to someone else.
I have a couple of eroticas and as eroticas go, I like to think they're fairly good. The covers are decent mid-grade stuff. The blurbs are kickin' and they're not outrageously priced. However, I'm slow and social media is not my friend. They sell though, and because they sell I've been wondering about the other side of indie work--what happens when you're a good writer, but you're slow or just throw something out there as an experiment? Everyone knows a "productive" writer makes money, but what about those people with singles or maybe a handful of work out in the indie market? What makes one author sell more copies?
Yesterday, I read something where someone I knew was talking about only selling five copies in two years. After I strangled down my urge to help I went to check it out. There's a little bit of head-hopping, but the heat level is off the scale and it's not bad enough to be a barrier to sales. The cover is pretty much on the same level as mine, and the blurb is good and strong. I know the writer is a social media whiz, and she has lots of friends to push her story.
It made me think about another writer who started out strong and crashed. She's only got one story out, but the blurb is good, the writing is excellent, and she had the cash to order bespoke cover art that isn't just kickin', but off the Richter scale. Social media is also not her friend. However the first book is 2.99 and the second is .99, which to me--accounts for the huge spike in sales out of the gate and the big drop.
People were willing to put down their dollar for a great cover, but despite the writing itself--didn't continue to buy, and I suspect it's a trends and targeting issue.
The first story is a f/f, and for the life of me, I don't know exactly "what" prevents people from buying f/f stories, but I suspect whatever it is also makes "m/m" sales skyrocket. Maybe it's a fantasy thing? Most buyers (I'm making a generalization) are female, and just on my own gut feeling as a heterosexual, I'm not big into reading two women getting it on, but the man-thing is kind of interesting. I've often wondered if it's a bigger, more complex problem--sort of like how straight guys rarely read m/m but are all about watching f/f video. Maybe--it's simply a market issue? Where the bigger market isn't a receptive audience and the right audience simply doesn't read, which circles around to the second book.
It truly is an excellent book. Although it started out slow, it drew me in and that's rare nowadays. Too much mind noise equals a low attention span.
I suspect...because of the way the subject matter is handled, going for the highest instead of the lowest denominator, market share is simply small and the kind of person who would enjoy it isn't the kind of person who'd tell their friends they enjoyed a BSDM awakening story.
Which circles around to book number three. I've been watching book three for a few years since I got the first one as a freebie and enjoyed it. Book two came out last year and I also enjoyed it. The covers are not graphic--more in the nature of a hearts and roses pink filter. The blurbs are so-so. Rank has been climbing. Something obvious from the fact that I only check in on it every now and again. There are literally millions of books on Amazon, and I'm always interested when something climbs from zero-gazillionth to a 200k ranking. It's not extraordinarily high, but it "is" selling steadily unlike books in the 2M range.
Strangely enough, it's a f/f book--but it's not a generic f/f book. It's so highly specialized you need to be a certain kind of person to read it, and slowly but surely--the people attracted to it are finding it. Probably through word of mouth and reviews. People and I'm pretty much just going on what I see--don't review books they didn't connect to in a strong way. People either love this book or hate it, but they're the right audience--and they're reacting. I suspect the author will be successful despite being a slow writer simply because of the way he connects with his readers.
I've rambled, I know--but I think to be a slow, successful indie writer (and monetary success is relative) you need to either expand your readership or narrow it down--but if you decide to narrow it down and find your niche, it needs to be a viable niche.