Today I compare two titles and maybe come to some conclusions. The two books are put out by WiDo because I can get the numbers with just a phone call, and I'm basically lazy when it comes to research. Also, one of them is my own book, and being vain, I like to talk about myself and what I'm doing.
My novel, Uncut Diamonds, and Ghost Waves by W. Everett Prusso came out the same year, 2009, first published as print only. I won't go into the details on price, format, sales history as print books, because it's the ebook sales I am most interested in here.
WiDo is dropping the Kindle prices on a few titles this summer as part of a Summer Read-in Special, beginning with these two. Since then, one of them has not done much better than it did before the price cut, while the other has been climbing at a faster pace than ever.
PRICE: They were $2.99 when they first came out on Kindle in 2010. A week ago they went to .99. They have been priced the same from the beginning of their ebook history.
I've always loved the Ghost Waves cover. It's original art, which might be rather outdated by today's YA trends, but it is intriguing, colorful and does a good job of telling what the book is about. I can't imagine this cover hurting sales, and personally I would pick this book up just by the cover. Now to Uncut Diamonds--
This also is original art, although with a more graphic design than Ghost Waves. It doesn't say anything about the book, shows no people, and is somewhat garish with that big flower diamond. I am trying to be objective here and not overly "aw shucks" humble, but if I didn't know anything about either book, I'd be more attracted to Prusso's cover than to mine. Although I do love how mine stands out, and perhaps that inspires the curiosity of potential readers.
CONCEPT: Here's where things really differ for these two books. Ghost Waves is about pirates, high seas adventure, four teens stranded when they fall off their ship as it rounds South America, and then there's the romance element. It is an exciting concept and a fun YA adventure/romance. It is plot-driven. It starts fast and keeps going at a pretty intense clip.
Uncut Diamonds is about a young Mormon couple living in central Illinois during the seventies, when "fuel bills were higher than house payments." It is "Steel Magnolias with Mormon characters," --a character-driven novel, starting slow, with a story that is hidden within the character's lives and dialogue. It is more about people than about plot.
One element they both have in common is Mormon characters, although Ghost Waves doesn't focus on religion nearly as much as Uncut Diamonds. Judging from these covers, and these concepts, which book would you predict has the higher sales?
*long thoughtful pause where everyone thinks about their answers*
*more expounding by me while you think*
I have always figured that Ghost Waves would outsell Uncut Diamonds any day, anywhere. I wrote this particular novel more for the LDS/Mormon market, and it turned out that LDS women really did not care for it much. Too close to home, perhaps? The worst reviews I've received have been from LDS women. So the religion factor that's strong in Uncut Diamonds truly does limit its demographic. It is not preachy or didactic, because I can't stand that in books, but it does deal a lot with elements of being Mormon, and that's a religion, which might turn some readers off.
MARKETING: Beyond the initial marketing push done by WiDo when it came out in print, there have been no extraordinary measures taken to promote either title beyond the first two years. Both of us did some signings at bookstores and spoke at several events-- libraries, book clubs, etc. Neither Prusso nor I hired any marketing services. We were advised by the publisher to start blogging and develop an online presence when our books came out. I began blogging at that time, and have kept at it steadily, adding Twitter and Facebook. Prusso set up a word press site, wrote a couple posts and was done there. I believe his daughter started a Facebook fan page for his book, but I don't know if it's still active as I couldn't find it.
COMPARISON RESULTS: Have you guessed which of these books is picking up steam on Kindle and which one is not? Well, here's the deal. Give us your best guess in your comment, with reasons why, and later this week I'll give you the answers. Of course, you can find out for yourself by looking at the Amazon ratings, but what fun would that be?
Come on, play my little game. What do you think?