Saturday, May 18, 2013

What is it about a book...

...that makes it so precious? When I was a kid, the gifts I most treasured were inscribed books from a favorite uncle or parent. I think of favorites like "Black Beauty," "A Child's Garden of Verse," "Red Ryder," "Bob, Son of Battle," and others that I saved for decades.

When my son was around seven years old, my parents gave him four books of Walt Disney tales, each  lovingly inscribed with a birthday message and a hope that he'd pass them along to his own son someday.  Well, someday just came, as his son just turned seven and is glued by the hour to the pages of these four volumes, which are surprisingly fresh and sound after four decades.

And this kid, like his contemporaries, is rarely apart from a screenful of entertainment, none of which will ever be as precious to him as the aging pages of those four old Disney books. What will he leave to his son (or daughter) someday? An autographed Kindle?

 How sad!

Robert Tell
Author of Ebooks (lol)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Are E-book Sales Slipping?

"After three years of triple-digit increases, the number of e-books sold last year grew by only 43%."

So begins an article in today's USA Today.  Grew by only 43%.  Like that's bad? What business would weep over stats like that? The point is that ebook growth may be beginning to trend down. 

Wasn't that inevitable? Of course. But is it a crisis? I think not.

Even though ebooks represent 20% of all books sold, the USA Today article points out that the rate of growth seems to be leveling off and that many readers still prefer the feel and look of printed books.

I suspect that will always be true. I have my Nook and a print book on my bedside table and I alternate reading each one. Most of my own book sales are e-books and I sell 10 ebooks for every print edition of my books. But the print editions do continue to be preferred by some readers. That's fine with me.

When TV was created, pundits predicted the end of radio. Of course, that didn't happen. Radio just morphed into a new style of delivering music and news. The same thing will happen with books. Print will always be with us, in my opinion. But there's no stopping, also in my opinion, the tsunami of ebooks flooding cyberspace. 

Readers will continue to have an expanding choice of what to read and how to access books. And that's a good thing, also in my opinion. What's yours?

Robert Tell, Author

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why Do Writers Write?

I ask myself this question all the time, even though I've been lucky enough to attract many readers to my books. Still, we writers know the huge time and effort involved, and few of us will make the NY Time Best Seller List. 

I suspect you book readers will admit to having curiosity about this question too, even if you don't harbor a secret desire to write your own book some day (although I bet many of you do).

The answers for some of us may lie in the following excerpts from "The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success," by Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords ( 

Here's what Mark says:

"Much of the discussion about what constitutes a 'successful author' invariably goes to a
discussion about book sales and earnings. The danger of this myopic measure of success is that most writers won’t sell a lot of books. This holds true for indie authors as well as traditionally published authors.

"Does this mean most writers are failures? Definitely not.

"Don’t allow your definition of success to be defined by others.

"Why do writers write? Why do you write? It’s a fascinating question because the
answers reveal a more open-ended spectrum by which you might measure your success.

Most writers write first and foremost because they feel compelled to write. Writing is a
deeply emotional process of self-discovery. Writing is one of the purest, most profound
forms of creative self-expression.

"We writers are often driven by a passionate desire to share our stories, knowledge and
ideas with the world. It takes great bravery for a writer to expose their writing to public

"Most – but not all – writers want to reach readers with their words. I imagine that’s why
you’ve invested your precious time to read this book.

"For many writers, simply getting their book out there – either self-published or
traditionally published – is the ultimate reward. Most people dream of writing a book, but
few ever complete one.

"For other writers, reader feedback is the ultimate reward. I remember how touched my
wife and I were when we received our first fan mail and reviews from readers of our
novel, Boob Tube. There’s something very cool about a complete stranger enjoying your
labor of love.

"Remember why you’re a writer. If you write simply to make money, odds are you’ll
probably make more if you get a part-time job at McDonalds. Few of us will hit the
lottery of bestsellerdom (though some of you will – for the rest of us it’s fun to imagine
that brass ring and reach for it). For those who do become best sellers, success requires
years of hard work toiling in obscurity.

"Write because you love to write. Never stop growing as a writer. Push yourself to always improve your craft. When each success comes, relish it because you earned it!"

If you enjoyed the above excerpts, you can download your own free copy of Mark Coker's entire document at: 

Happy reading, writing, or both,

Robert Tell, Author,

Saturday, May 11, 2013

How can ebook authors increase sales?

I know you've heard about Smashwords, the major distributor of ebooks, but if you haven't see the latest Smashwords blog post, you are definitely missing out on lots of important marketing ideas.

If you are pressed for time, here's the essence of it in a nutshell. Based on a review of 120,000 of its ebook sales, Smashwords did an analysis of potential factors that could help authors sell more ebooks. 

Their analysis provided answers to the following questions:
  • Do frequent price changes help authors sell more books?
  • Do longer or shorter book titles sell more books? 
  • Do longer or shorter book descriptions sell more books?
  • How do sales develop over time at a retailer, and what factors might spark a breakout?
  • Do longer or shorter books sell better?
  • What's the average word count for the 60 bestselling Smashwords romance books?
  • What does the sales distribution curve look like, and how many books sell well?
  • How many words are the bestselling authors selling for a penny?
  • What are the most common price points for indie ebooks, and what changed since last year? 
  • How many more downloads do FREE ebooks get compared to priced ebooks?
  • How have Smashwords sales grown at the Apple iBookstore in three years?
  • How does price impact unit sales volume?
  • What price points yield the greatest overall earnings for authors and publishers?
  • What does the Yield Graph portend for the future of publishing?
To read about the findings, I recommend checking out the link to the Smashwords' blog post:

Mark Coker, the guy who created Smashwords, has asked for the word about this study to be spread . Smashwords has my own books in its inventory and, very possibly yours as well. I will be applying the lessons learned to the marketing of my work.  I suggest you read the findings of this study and apply them to your own strategies too.

Good luck!

Robert Tell

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What the heck is this all about?

Well, I'll tell ya! In fact, I'll Robert Tell ya!

I'm an author of novels, memoir and poetry, but please notice that I'm not listing or promoting my work here right now. That's deliberate. I want readers and fellow authors to feel comfortable about participating in these discussions without fearing a hard sell whenever they tune in.

If you really want to know about me you can find my profile and my work described at Goodreads, Smashwords, Amazon, and all on-line retailers of books and ebooks. And that's all I'll say about that right now. Do you like that, or would you prefer to know more about me right here on this blog?

I envision this blog as a clubhouse where everyone interested in books can mingle and chat. So let's talk about what makes a good read, about publishing alternatives in the new world of publishing, what turns you on and off about writer and reader forums, and how we can make the dialogue in a blog like this meaningful to everyone who loves words, stories, cereal boxes,  or whatever format consumes your literary interests.

How can a blog like this be useful to you?

For starters, do you own an e-reader?  If not, why not? If yes, which e-reader do you own and would you by it again? Do you still read hard copy books sometimes?

Here's my take. I own a basic Nook. All I can do on it is read. That's good. When I read, I don't want a gadget that will tempt me to surf the web or check my email. All in all I'm happy with it. My wife has a basic Kindle and, truthfully, I like it too. Right now I'm reading the complete works of Agatha Christie which I bought from B&N for a buck. I love it.

I'm also reading a regular hard cover edition of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's "Majesty of the Law," and I love that too.

What about you? Let's hear from you.

Robert Tell, Author