Pros and Cons of the $.99 Book

Well, here it is holiday time—time for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Shop Your Local Stores . . . The list continues.

So, what’s an author to do?  The goal, of course, is to expand readership and sell books.  When the standard social media PR seems to have turned into a steady but unimpressive drip, the author faces a dilemma:  sell your book for full price (in, my case, a whopping $7.99 for an ebook) or discount the book to a meager $.99 for a limited time in the hopes that a new cadre of readers will plop down their change and buy the book.

I decided to take the plunge: my book is on sale now for $.99.  My rationale?  There must be folks out there who want to better understand their sibling connections.  There must be brothers and sisters out there who think gifting an ebook during the holidays makes a terrific (and inexpensive) gift.  There have to be potential readers who’ve held off downloading the book but may be motivated now.

Alas, slapping a $.99 sticker price for The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives is just the first step.  I mean, who will know about the sale?  You’ve clubbed followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin . . .  By now, after a year, they are sick and tired of tweets and posts about everything sibling.  Believe me, I’ve had to dig hard to find new takes on a single theme.

So, yes, I’ll let those followers know.  But it’s time to spread my wings.  What’s next?  What’s next is signing up—sometimes for free, sometimes not—for as many recommended online book sites that promote discounted and free books to what they promise are thousands and thousands of potential readers.  Finding the best sites isn’t always easy but, as is often the case, there are sites like “Best Promotion Sites 2016” geared toward authors.

So, I’ve spent hours filling out forms, writing my biography as a writer, descriptions of my book, online bookstores that currently sell my book . . .  And who knows what the increased sales may be?  Sure not me.  The #1 site on this list is BookBub.  Yes, listing there which, I read, is not a guarantee costs money.  Lots of money.  The estimate to list/promote my non fiction book about family relationships is almost $500.  Are they kidding?  I’ve only made $500 in royalties so far after handing off 10% to my distributor, Bublish.  So, BookBub is out!

Other recommended sites such as Book Reader Magazine, Discount Book Man, Book of the Day, Just Kindle Books, Your Book Promoter and more are often happy to list your book for one day for free but offer other paid programs for as low as $7.95.  For example, Book of the promises the following:

  • 3 times as much traffic as Unfiltered.
  • Your cover and description will be included in our newsletter.
  • Posts will be sent to Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
  • Your book gets a full page on our main site with no external ads.
  • Displayed in the category of your choice.
  • Your book page can include video and links to Amazon, B&N, Apple, and Kobo.
  • You’ll be featured on the Front Page for at least one day.
  • You’re eligible for the Trending and Top Ten displays.
  • Your book will appear in our slider at the bottom of every page.
  • If you have more than one book on our main site, they’ll be cross-referenced at the bottom of each book’s page.
  • You can post an author profile with links to social media and your website.
  • You can use our automatic interface to announce a sale on the Special Offers page. (Also adds a sticker on your book’s page.)

You’re eligible for our Native Advertising Program, a 21-day tour around our site. (Additional charge.)

Of course, it’s an additional charge,  I have no idea what a “Native Advertising Program” might be (selling to Native Americans?), but I’m going to take a pass.

So, what the heck?  I’ll have to sell 8 books to break even, but it’s worth a shot.

While I can’t monitor the success of this listing and others on most online sites, I can check my ranking on Amazon.  Alas, when I looked this morning, my ranking had dropped since last week before I signed up for these free and not-so-free book promotion sites.  Not an encouraging start.  In fairness, most of the sites have not yet listed my book.

This is just one more wait-and-see stabs at selling books.  Authors who dreamed of sitting in some delightful, peaceful space and just writing, have another thing coming.  The work of a successful author is never done.  Unless she is lucky enough to have an aggressive publisher who thinks it can make some money off of your book, you are stuck:  Either do the marketing or settle for a job well done but one that floats out there in the ethernet all by itself.


“Do We Really Have to Be Close to Our Siblings?”

I read a fascinating article on  In it, Lisa Freedman asks whether we really have to be close to our siblings.  She is not particularly close to her brother; in fact, she hadn’t visited him for at least five years.  And they live only a couple of hours apart.

Freedman has many friends who share close connections with their siblings: they call, text, visit as often as they can.  She wonders whether there is something wrong with her— “I’m half jealous of their relationships and half weirded out by their freaky codependence. And they look at me like I’m the worst sister ever when I tell them I usually see my brother only over the holidays.”

First of all some facts:  About twenty to thirty per cent of siblings have “cordial” but “distant” connections.  It’s not that they don’t like one another (although some of them do not); it’s that they don’t have time, or carry childhood hurts, were never close, even as kids, or just don’t care.  They have dear friends who are just like “family” and who give them all the support and guidance and patience they feel they need.

Freedman feels she may be missing out.  And she gets a lot of flak from others who feel sorry for her, even dismayed.  According to relationship coach Jeannie Bertoli, Ph.D., whom Freedman interviews, “It’s evolutionary to want to keep the family together.  We fear that without our family, we might not be OK.  It’s a survival instinct.”

As the author of The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives, I interviewed scores of siblings of all ages.  What I discovered is that the sibling bond is deep and never static—that a conflicted relationship can be improved as siblings age and, conversely, that a solid childhood connection can fray around the edges.

Luckily, for those conflicted relationships, there is hope.  Siblings can reconnect and look forward to a more supportive connection as they age.

Speaking of aging: Studies show that a majority of seniors say they are closer to a sibling than to anyone else except their children.  Senior siblings have weathered a lifetime together.  They most likely cared for sick or dying parents.  They supported each other and their families as they navigated the sometimes chopping waters of life.  They remained constants, in spite of divorce, death, the distance between old friends and co-workers.

But Freedman is a woman in her thirties.  Understandably, thinking about her years as a senior is not in her wheelhouse.  She and her brother lead busy lives, have their own set of friends, their own professional pursuits.  They don’t have/make much time for each other in their day-to-day lives

And that’s just fine, Freedman writes.  She understands the history she and her brother share and knows that, “If I really needed my brother for something, he’d have my back—and vice versa. Apparently, her brother agrees.  “Our relationship works for us.  We’re both just really busy, but you’re right, we’d be there for each other in a bind.”

If I were a betting woman, I’d lay odds that when these siblings hit middle age (and who knows when that is, anymore?)—when the kids are off to college, the job is secure, the marriage/partnership has survived or not—they will make more of an effort to share their lives and develop fuller friendships. They will most likely deal with the illness/death of a parent(s), understand more the fragility of life, and value the history they share, a unique history that others can imagine but have not experienced.

So, no, we don’t really have to be close to our siblings.  But for many, an intimate sibling connection can make us more human and better able to understand who, what, and why we are.



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