Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Latest Obsession

Not quite a month ago I got an email from one of my older publishers asking me what kind of promotion I was doing. Promotion? Not much at the moment. Why? I asked.

Well, because some of my old titles over at Amazon were selling quite a few more copies than they’d expected given how old the titles were.

I said, okay, that’s interesting and I checked it out and sure enough Promises To Keep, my first book in the Gaian series, was ranked around 1,200 over at Amazon. Even more, I was on a couple of best seller lists, including at number 11 on the Space Opera, just under one of Orson Scott Card’s Ender books, and above the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Okay, that’s just plain weird because I had no idea why a book I wrote in 2004 would be burning up the charts like that. It had good reviews, it had finaled in a published author’s contest but at its peak it never sold that well.

So I investigated a little more. First of all, it is the entry book to a series of four titles about a future time when a colony of Earth has gained its independence. Some of the titles take place during the war, some just after it ended. The premise is that some of the men from Gaia, the former colony, are desperate for wives so they start kidnapping women from Earth. You see unless a Gaian man finds a woman he matches he can’t have sex with anyone, so being guys they are pretty motivated to make that happen.

Add to it that Gaia has a shortage of women due to the destruction of one of their girl’s schools at the beginning of the war, so they have to look to Earth, even if the Earth’s military was responsible for the destruction.

This provides me with goals, motivations, and a lot of conflict for my characters since it is usually a guy from Gaia falling for a woman from Earth he might not otherwise want to be involved with. Also the guys tend to get very hot and bothered as soon as they meet the women, so it isn’t hard to add a sexual component, although I don’t write these books as sex romps the way I do some of my other books.

But these books have been out there for quite a while. The book Promises To Keep was published in 2004. Even with good, albeit older reviews on Amazon, it shouldn’t be outselling Hitchhiker’s guide.
So I have to make some guesses as to why that might be.

First there is the price of the first book: $2.99. That’s an interesting price point. Cheap enough so that people are tempted into looking at the book. The premise is interesting. Since most of the action takes place on the Gaian flagship “The Promise” I’ve sometimes referred to the book as “Mars Needs Women meets the Love Boat”. The cover is pretty good, a nice blue color and a half-naked hunk on the front. I think people are picking it up because there isn’t a lot of science fiction romance out there, the price is right, and the book shows as a recommendation when someone buys a similar book.

Which brings me to my latest obsession: Novelrank. Novelrank is a website that takes Amazon data and tracks it for different books, translating the data into approximate sales. If you are selling more than one book an hour, then their algorithm can miss some sales, but for books like mine, they claim to be pretty accurate. They update the data hourly as it comes in from the Amazon sales sites.

I’ve been following Promises To Keep for the past couple of weeks using Novelrank: as well as the other books in the Gaian world. Sales of the other books aren’t as good as the first book but for older titles they are respectable. Some of that might be that they are a dollar or two more than $2.99 and also some people will read the first book of a series and then not bother picking up the second or third or even fourth book.

But then there are the times I’ll see that there was a sale of all four titles in the same hour, and I just wonder. Did someone like my world so much they bought all four at the same time?

This makes me smile. You see, it isn’t really the money although when I get my next check I expect I’ll smile then as well. It is the thought that somewhere someone is reading my words and enjoying the world I built out of my head.

Next week on Wednesday I have chat to discuss the Gaian world on the NCP Network at 7PM EST. I'm looking forward to talking to people about my books.

RWA wants to know what I consider success? That’s success.

Janet Miller/Cricket Starr


Jill James said...

Janet, I would count that as success too. When a whole new group of people discover your books after several years of being out, that is success.

Sheila Tenold said...

Janet, I'm tickled reading about your happy news! And I'm intrigued with the series premise.

I'm planning an overseas trip early next year. A good time to download your Gaian series to read during those long flights.

Janet/Cricket said...

Hi Jill,

Most of us make so little money at writing that the real rewards have to be something else. Sharing our worlds is the best.

Hi Sheila,

What a great compliment! If you do end up reading my series, I hope you let me know how you enjoy it.


Josie said...

Exciting and happy news, Janet. It seemed to come when you least expected, but how wonderful for you.