Thursday, December 08, 2011

Experiments & Observations

I remember one time when I was younger, my cousin and I were playing around with a home chemistry set.  It was one of those benign kits with nothing at all dangerous in it.  The ones designed for kids.  So, what did me and my cousin do?  You guessed it, we improvised.

We were over an my cousin's house and I'm sure his mother didn't give a second thought about leaving us to try out the suggested experiments.  She may have even been proud that we were attempting something academic.  But you should never leave two boys to their own devices.  Bored with the included ingredients, my cousin and I soon found ourselves raiding the cleaning agents under the sink.

Stupid, I know.  You don't have to tell me.

Now I can't quite remember what all we mixed together, but we ended up making this green liquid with a terrible smell (luckily nothing deadly). I do, however, remember the last thing we added:  yeast.  We filled a glass jar full of the green sludge, screwed the lid on tight, and marveled at our own scientific endeavor.

Then we left to go to dinner.  Did I mention we left the jar sitting next to a desk lamp?  I didn't?  Well, we did.

When we got back to my cousin's house the first thing we noticed was the smell permeating the entire house.  We climbed upstairs, went into his room and wow!  It was our first lesson in what yeast does.  The light bulb caused the yeast to rise and that glass jar could only take so much.

The strange thing is the jar didn't react as you would expect it to.  It seems like the swelling green gloop should have blown the cap off, or exploded the glass jar in all directions, making my cousin's room look like the set of some show on Nickelodeon.  I suspect the chemical brew we had concocted had weakened the glass, because instead of rupturing in all directions, the terrible slime shot out of the side of the jar and made a B-line straight for a cage across the room holding my cousin's finches.  I mean it, not even a drop was on his bed or the wall.  I don't know if it was the slime or the sheer shock of the explosion, but we found the little birds at the bottom of the cage, little twig legs sticking up in the air.

Why did I tell you this story?

I don't know.  It's a cautionary tale that never fails to bring out a chuckle in me.  Seriously, though, I've done some experiments with my writing life of late and found some things I didn't expect.

First of all I experimented with the price of my book Guarding the Healer.  My sales have been less than great, despite some nice reviews, so back in October I decided to drop the price to $.99.  Many writers have reported huge jumps in sales after doing this, and even have earned more money even though you have to sell 6 times as many.

My sales in October went up a tad, but not even close to justifying the royalty drop (70% to 35% in case you didn't know).

In November I decided to bump the price from the original $2.99 and list it at $3.99.  The reason I did this is some were conjecturing that the $2.99 price point was a marker of indie authors and may be driving potential buyers away.  Some were finding that by bringing the price up they were getting more sales and making more money on each book sold to boot.

That didn't work for me.  My sales bottomed out, and I mean ROCK BOTTOM.  Guarding the Healer is now back at $2.99 and my sales numbers rebounded a bit, but are still bad.  I'm not sure what all this means, except that I'm obviously doing something wrong.

Trial and error is what a good experiment is all about, right?  I just hope I figure things out before too long.

Sometime soon I'll tell you about how to tick off half of Kindleboards with only one word.  I'll also discuss the two categories of writers, and no it's not genre v literary.

1 comment:

Cate Gardner said...

I've yet to figure out how books sell despite buying loads of books. I guess we all just keep soldiering on and writing. And boy, do I want to know what that word was :D