With Ebooks, More Is More

How do you know when you have enough ebooks published? Can you relax after you've got 1 book up? Does it take 3 books? A dozen?

If you're a reader, and you like the authors you follow, then the answer is "there are never enough books available--write faster."

Less Is More?

Uh, no. Restraint accomplishes nothing for an author looking to build an audience. If you're a writer and publisher of ebooks, then more is more.

If you do a study of successful ebook authors, and I have, then you'll see that the most popular authors who continue selling, after the flashes in the pan fade, are those authors with the most books available.

A newly published ebook will boost sales of the other books on your list. For those authors with books ready to go, you have an edge. When I began publishing, I had a body of work composed of backlist titles and unpublished manuscripts that had made the rounds of New York without capturing a contract so in rather quick succession I published 6 books within 12 weeks.

So if you have inventory, work on getting your ebooks published as soon as the works are proofed, edited, formatted, and converted.

If readers like your first book, they'll immediately buy anything else you've got available. That's a rather compelling reason for getting your ebooks published quickly.

Take Heart

If you're a beginner, and you don't have inventory like most print-published authors who have been working for years, then do not take time off after publishing your first ebook. Immediately begin work on another--even if the first one is selling so slow that your sales rank is in the millions.

You have to hang onto the thought that once readers discover your work, they'll want more immediately. John Locke believed this and based his body of work on that fact. If you have faith in your storytelling and your narrative skills, then keep writing.

The more you write; the better you'll get--if you're paying attention. In traditional publishing, editors (and agents) always exhort aspiring authors to read widely. This is good advice. Reading books that sell well can teach you a lot of things.

Improve By Reading

You can see how your writing stacks up against theirs--not so you'll feel bitter with the "my writing's better so why is this garbage selling and mine's not" attitude that will surely make you angry and depressed. You read to find out why their work is selling and yours isn't. There's always a reason if you'll open your mind and your eyes.

Is their authorial voice--the way they choose to express the story from the words chosen to the style to the tone--more appealing? Is it the subject matter? Are they better at pacing? Do their stories flow more smoothly? Is it how they get characters from point A to point B? Have they created characters who seem to leap from the page? Do their stories keep you glued to the page until the end of the book?

Improve By Writing

Only by writing thousands and thousands of words, and analyzing what you've written, will you improve. Your mother probably told you: "Practice makes perfect." My mother said that every time I griped about practicing piano.

The same is true of writing. The more you write; the better you'll get. Dean Koontz, among others, once said, "You must write X thousands of words before you'll write anything worth publishing. What X is varies from writer to writer."

Trained By Rejection

Most of us print writers were trained by rejection. We wrote. We submitted. We were rejected--even after being published. We repeated the process. That's why so many of us have inventory available as raw material for ebooks.

Even when I couldn't sell, I wrote. I created inventory. At the time, I just didn't have a clue as to what to do with it. Then the Kindle came along. Thank you, Amazon!

I'm not alone in this. There are a lot of ebook authors who are not Joanie or Johnny-come-lately's to this biz. We've been there, quietly toiling away, book after book.

If you don't have an inventory, then start creating one. Set a goal of writing X number of words each day or publishing X number of ebooks each year. Get content--quality content--out there as quickly as possible. You've got 3 months left this year. You should already be scheduling your writing on a 2012 calendar.

Takeaway Truth

The more books you make available; the more successful you'll be. Never stop writing--if you want a successful book career.


  1. Joan, this is such a great post. We were just talking about this very subject over at the Spinning Wheel Cafe. Great advice! Thanks!

  2. I agree with everything you said and remind authors to read their work aloud. I also want to remind that ebooks and independent publishing allow authors to target market and create a niche for themselves, and the more books you have, the more you'll sell to those people for whom your books are 'perfect.'

  3. Susan ... Oh, I miss the dear old Spinning Wheel. I haven't had a chance to get back there in months. *sigh* Life is just too darn busy.

  4. Sharon L Reddy ... So true, Sharon.

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

  5. Another well-written and thoughtful post, Joan!! Thanks for always sharing such excellent advice for writers here ;).

  6. Marilyn Brant ... Hey, thanks! Hope you're having a good week.

    Best wishes,

  7. Boy, do I know what you mean about inventory! Like you, I had those books for which I'd gotten the rights back as well as some that had not garnered a publishing contract. I have now published nine ebooks in four months. (And Harlequin has put out a tenth book of mine in that same period.) I started right off with four that had been previously published.

    Unlike Joan, who sold 20,000 books her first month, my sales came on slowly. But once I had INVENTORY, the books fed off each other. For the past month I've had 4 of the Top 10 in Regency/Historical and 7 in the Top 40 and sold 27,000 books in September.

    My advice to less experienced writers would be to wait until they could release 3 or 4 books at once. Nothing spawns a sale better than another well-received book.

    I've still got inventory. Like Joan, though, I'm so snowed under I can't get it out at the present.