I confess, i was getting freaked. Panicking even.
Book published, check. Sending people to Smashwords, check. Them looking at the book, some of them buying it, check. Giving it away in a few competitions, check.
And where’s the through traffic? I put it down to my book not showing up in the first pages of either Best Sellers, Most Downloads (some books are free), or Highest Rated.
So, how will they find my book? I’ll have to get it rated, i don’t have enough sales to get it on the bestseller lists, and i’m not yet desperate enough to give it away to drum up publicity for Book 2.
I worked hard, trying to get people to review it – did very well, and got some wonderful reviews. Smashwords was doing what it says on the box, sort of – i wasn’t getting sales, but the sales i did get in my first month (so in the last quarter), Smashwords promptly (quarterly) paid royalties, which are generous per book. (85% of the cover price comes to me if sold from the site.)
Still, despite sitting on front page of Smashwords Highest Rated Scifi And Fantasy for weeks, nothing. For a month, nothing. Not even someone downloading the sample?
I mean, really, is my intro that bad? I decided to rewrite (to an earlier edit) Chapter 1. Waited. I rewrote the blurbs. Waited. I rewrote them again. I cried some. Waited. No impact. Nothing. Nobody even looking at it, unless i went on a flurry of self-promotion. Then, to make things worse, i couldn’t always find it in the listings.
I was beginning to wonder if i’d over-estimated the pull Smashwords might have by itself. I did think they had some people wandering through. Then i found someone with a bunch of fake reviews. Was everyone fake? (I reported the fake, action is pending or being taken at various sites across the net – more later.)
My book wasn’t always visible, but i assumed they had a slightly glitchy search, and shrugged it off. What could i do? Most of the time i showed up, and always on the Sci Fi Fantasy listings. Then i disappeared from the SFF pages. Completely. I could see where i should be, the books ahead and behind me in rankings, but i wasn’t there.
I waited. Maybe questions had been asked and my book was invisible because i reported the fake? I cleared my internet cache. Another day. I cleared cookies, cache, and discovered i was still invisible. I think i cried again then.
Now, I’ve had the year (or so) from hell. I no longer have a family, and my health’s deteriorating in scary ways. My book was the one bright shining thing i had. And now what i thought was my main marketing tool was useless.
I simply don’t have time to do what i thought Smashwords could do for me. In fact, i wouldn’t have self-published if i hadn’t investigated them and self-publishing very thoroughly, and decided their way was the only feasible option – unless i went the traditional route of finding representation and a publisher.
Now, by self-publishing without a decent market, i’d completely destroyed my career. That book is the first in a series, and if i’ve published it in the wrong place, i’m screwed. I think i cried some more. Then, i pulled myself together.
There must be a reason, it had been 4 days or so, it was now reasonable to ask wtf. So i did, politely. And she (lovely helpful lass from Smashwords wrote almost straight back) said it’s there, page 5 or so on my comp on the main ‘Highest Rated Smashwords books’ pages.
Phew, i thought, and went to look. Several hours later, having cleared everything again, i asked Twitter friends to help out. Could anyone else see it? Five couldn’t, and i wasn’t in the index either. I thought aha! But then one could see me. Huh? Oh wait, bet she’s on a Mac. She wasn’t.
She was using exactly the same WinXP with Firefox as me. Meanwhile, i logged back in and noticed something. A tiny something, top right of the page. Adult Filter is ON
Bah humbug to adult filters, i said to myself, and of course I switched it off and magically, there i was. At number freaking 3 on the best rated SFF! I didn’t even know i’d made it there!
I wrote back to Smashwords, so if the nice lass had similar hysterical authors, she could sort it out in a snap. Then it hit me. I would never get any passing traffic from Smashwords. The only people who would see me were those who noticed the Filter and switched it off.
I cried some more. Mr Whatsit was getting damp. Then i said, i’m taking the Adult rating off. He thought would be fine, i checked with others who’d read it, decided to do it. Nice lass at Smashwords said that was okay, was up to me. (But of course, i now hope nobody is horribly shocked by suicidal sheep or permanently emotionally scarred by Polo’s mother.)
Then I noticed the “voluntary” Adult rating wasn’t even on most of the Erotica on the site! After a fairly short time, (an hour or so) my book is now showing. To anyone. I’ve already had several people look at the sample. No sales yet, but that’s cool – you don’t have to buy it if you don’t like it. I’m fair, i keep telling you.
I’ve noticed another writer like me, with a well-reviewed book (genuine reviews, i checked) who’s also marked her book Adult. I marked mine adult thinking it wasn’t a children’s book. So, if you’re self-publishing, and thinking of using Smashwords? Don’t mark your book Adult content.
I’ve just wasted ten weeks of promotion for a book nobody could see unless i linked directly to its page. Every time i posted the Highest Rated chart – unless they knew about the Adult filter and switched it off – they looked, and assumed i was posting the wrong link, mistaken, or lying because my book wasn’t there. And get this, NOBODY SAID ANYTHING. Fortunately, i’d posted the direct link a lot, but some of my best retweeted posts were for a link that didn’t show my book.
In a few days, i’ll get it together, relaunch the book with a competition, and pretty much start from scratch. In the meantime, another sample’s been downloaded, am getting steady interest now people can actually see me.
There’s a lesson here. I’m too mangled to figure it out.
In the meantime, The Birthday Dragon is still at Number 3 - and anyone can see me.You can also download a free sample to see if you like it.
If you have a Kindle, Smashwords provide downloads for you, as they do for every other kind of ebook reader. If you’re like me, on a PC, you can download FREE Kindle software. If you’re on a Mac they have it too.
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