Whoa! Two Years of Selling Ebooks!

What? Where did those two years go? Back in February 5th of 2011 I launched my novel DUST as an ebook (for sale in the US and UK, because those are the countries where I owned the rights myself).

Those were heady days! But I've blogged about them on previous occasions, so I won't retread that ground. Just start reading from the  beginning or skip ahead to the amazing 1 1/2 year report.

Well not much has changed in the last six months. Overall I've sold 8406 copies of my ebooks. Last year that grossed me  around $6000. That's like sixty iPods! I could wear them as an iPod suit. Anyway, I expect my ebook income to drop this year. Why? Because as I've noted before there has been a downward trend in my sales since my last report. Here's an amazing graphic to show that...

Hey, that number in the bottom keeps going down each month. 249 copies seven months ago. 53 copies sold last month. I do think there is much more competition out there now and that there was a big blitz on sales while everyone and their pet got an eReader then filled it up. And the drop in sales is also because of the algorithmic changes Amazon made to how they weight the price of books on the sales chart (if you sell a 9.99 book, it'll jump higher up the sales chart than a .99 cent book). It became harder for my books to climb the charts and get noticed by buyers.

Yet, I'm happy with the sales.  It's still passive income for me that will go on as long as there are eReaders in the world. I really don't do much extra work to earn that income. And I'm very much a less work for more money kind of guy!  Art As a public service I'll attach these clickable links to my books, including the two "grown up" books I've published under the name Stephen Shea. If a book isn't available in your area as an ebook, it's because I'm still negotiating the erights for that book. So sorry for any confusion.

Let the Reader Finish the Painting

Mona Lisa There is a relationship that develops between the reader and the writer, or more specifically, the reader and the writer's words. How you treat the reader and this relationship is one of the most important decisions you can make as a writer. Do you trust in your own work? In how it will be received and interpreted? Or do you feel that you have to lay out every single detail. Often if you don't trust in your words you'll end up writing dialogue like this:

He gently ran his fingers across the marble tabletop. "That's a gorgeous table," he said, happily.

What this sort of adverbial description shows is that you don't quite trust the reader to receive the message so you tell them exactly what is happening. But it's important to remember that this is a give and take relationship and that the reader is paying very close attention to what you're writing. So instead you could create the scene this way:

He gently ran his fingers across the marble tabletop. "That's a gorgeous table," he said.

Only the word happily has been dropped from the scene. But because of that, the reader does the work. They assume that the "gorgeous" statement is made in a positive manner. They know this because he gently ran his fingers across the table. It indicates what his feelings are about the table.

As the writer one aspect of your job is to get the reader to do much of the work. It's the perfect relationship that way. Yeah, you might have some heavy lifting to do, but they should be lifting along with you. Or, for that matter, if you're painting a beautiful portrait of a scene with words, let them finish the painting. Don't give them every single detail, slowing down the story. Pick the pertinent details. They will automatically create the rest of the scene.

Everyone was gone, but Robert sensed a presence. At the landing he peered around the corner, saw nothing but the kitchen table, the tall, red vase by the window, and a cloth flour bag on the counter.  The De Laval cream separator, with all its bowls and pipes, loomed on the cupboard like a Martian instrument of torture.

Notice that this doesn't describe the floor. But you likely pictured it because...well...kitchens have floors. Nor is the colour of the cupboard mentioned. Though you likely filled that little detail in. And by reading about a cloth flour bag on the counter your brain may have been twigged to the fact that this is written in the past.

This could have easily been:

Everyone was gone, but Robert sensed a presence. At the landing he peered around the corner, saw nothing but the old, tired-looking kitchen table with its four spindly legs, the wooden floor,  the tall, red vase by the dirty window, and a grey and torn cloth flour bag on the green counter. The massive De Laval cream separator, with its three bowls and seven pipes, loomed on the cupboard like a giant and frightening Martian instrument of torture.

The reader doesn't need all that extra info. Our job is to get ride of the distractions in the scene. And then we let the reader finish the painting. It's their job, really.