Et tu, Brute?

Demon's NightAs you may recall I recently reworked Demon’s Night, the first supernatural mystery featuring occult super-sleuth Jason Dark. In the past days I have also created a new cover of Ghosts Templar, another one of the Jason Dark mysteries. This was also an effort to make the book appeal to a larger audience, hopefully, in order to generate more sales.

While I was spending all that time on reworking my books over the past weeks, the question “How can I get more people to buy these books?” kept going through my mind and with it an idea germinated in my mind. A focus group… well, kind of, sort of… let me explain.

I know that many of you visiting this blog have not bought any of my books, probably never even read the sample. How do I know this? Well, I really just have to look at my server statistics and unique user numbers and compare them with my book sales and it is immediately obvious that my sales are in absolutely no relation to my blog visitors. The same is undoubtedly true for my Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

Ghosts TemplarNow, I do not want to shame you into buying my books here — not at all. Instead, I would like to know, why you have never bought one of my books — after all there are ten of them and I am honestly curious about the reasons.

As I said, look at it as a focus group. You are an audience and I am trying to sell books. Help me to find out how I can make my products more attractive and better by telling me the reasons why YOU decided not to purchase one.

If you simply don’t read horror or supernatural mysteries, fair enough. That is a valid reason. I’d probably never buy a romance or a poem book. It’s just not my bag.

If the covers were simply not attractive enough for you to take an interest, fair enough, please let me know, or if customer reviews turned you off.

If you thought that I am writing merely for my spiritual enrichment and that money or sales are of no import to me, feel free to let me know, just as you should let me know if you feel that Jason Dark is just a boring dude with a bad name.

Evidently, there is a reason why you haven’t bought any of the books… some reason, even if it is hidden in the recesses of your mind, even if you might be weary to pull it out in the open and face the truth… there IS a reason for each one of you, and I believe it would be helpful for me to hear what these reasons are.

Just to be clear, I am not interested in generalizations, opinions or chatter why people may not have bought the book. These kinds of notions are bountiful across the web and really not what I’m after. I want to know exactly why YOU in particular did not. Search your soul, please, and try to let me know as best as you could.

Again, let me stress that I do not wish to shame you into purchasing any of my books. I love to have you around one way or the other, but I also hope that by following me you do take some kind of interest in my work and if I fail to deliver, I’d like to know about it.


27 Replies to “Et tu, Brute?”

  1. Terry Mixon

    The reason I don’t buy your books is because I’m just not a horror person. I’m one of those Happily Ever After romance types, so I don’t usually read books that might go the other way.

    That said, I enjoy hearing what you say as a writer, and find it very interesting. So here I come, via RSS feed, every time you post. I wish you the best luck in growing an audience and I’ve linked to you on my blog site. It only seems fair, since I co-opted the same free template you use for my site. 😉

  2. Jason Garman

    I don’t typically read horror or supernatural mysteries. On top of that, I tend to enjoy longer stories (100k words or more) more than shorter ones. I usually read epic fantasy and science fiction with lots of characters and subplots.

    That said, if I knew someone who enjoyed the types of stories you write, I’d probably send them a link to your site or amazon page. I found your blog from your guest post on Konrath’s blog, and I read mainly for your interesting discussions on book marketing and to see how your changes in strategy pan out. Your series on book formatting was also very well done and informative.

  3. Jakob

    I really only stumbled in here by chance and turned into a feed subscriber because I liked your insights on how to create ebooks. Funny thing is, I know the Jason Dark series and used to read a few of those pulp stories we call Groschenroman in German, albeit admittantly never buying them, just leeching off of a friend.

    I am currently considering self publishing or a web novel myself, all the more reason for me to stick around. While horror stories are usually not my cup of tea, who knows, if I do indeed write something combining the vampire fad with the steampunk and some cyberpunk for good measure, I’d better brush up on my genre tropes.

    Best wishes,

  4. Robert J. McCarter

    I have two issues: 1) Genre, and 2) the size of my To Be Read pile.

    I started reading your blog from Konrath’s too, and appreciate the info I am finding. I haven’t read Konrath’s books either. I tried a sample of Draculas, and it wasn’t for me. I did by “The List” at .99 because it sound more like a book I would read, and will get to it at some point.

    I think you may be running into the same problem a lot of writers run into when the blog about writing. They mostly attract writers (I recall Zoe Winters saying something about this recently).

    BTW, I like the new covers. I hope they do well for you.

  5. Tim Thompson

    I too, am not much of a horror and suspense reader plus I have so many books waiting right now plus other things on my plate. That being said, I will one day buy one of your books to read just to get a feel. I did very much enjoy your formatting e-books series and that is what attracted me to your blog and I will continue to follow it via RSS. Thanks for all you contribute and I hope you are able to find your audience soon.

  6. Tim Thompson

    Ah, you know what? I just went and bought Demon’s Night and it can go in my to be read list. I owe you at least that much for reading your contributions. (I bet I’ll get hooked on your writing, too.)

  7. TF Rofkahr

    Hey man – I just wanted you to know that the new covers are outstanding. Give them some time and think they’ll do really well for you.

    It’s like Robert said a few posts up. A great number of us found you via JA Konrath’s website. Which means you ended up attracting a whole bunch of new epublishing hopefuls.

    The landing pad you’ve made for us here is outstanding. The craft you put into this site and the Jason Dark site are top notch. Konrath was right when he called you “professional”. You’ve got that nailed hard.

    Probably the one piece I appreciated the most was the “how to format your e-book” series. Hell – that’s getting you a karmic debt sale if nothing else.

    The good thing about that karma sale is that if I ended up liking the book – you’ll have someone else promoting *you* for you. Which helps immensely in rolling the sales rock up that hill.

    Best of luck.

  8. Darrin

    I’m not a horror or supernatural reader.

    I prefer action/adventure, and a horror/supernatural story with an action bent might appeal to me.

    The book covers are a great improvement.

    I do appreciate your blog, though.

  9. Ian

    I haven’t bought (or read) because I thought they were children’s books (or for young readers), similar to Hardy Boys.

    My fave genre of fiction is horror.

  10. Charles Findlay

    I found you through your guest post on JA Konrath’s blog. Your blog is one of the better one’s out there too, but as you noticed, I didn’t buy your book.

    Now after this blog post, the cover art change and .99 price I did just purchase it. It’ll be a week or two before I get around to read it and I’ll post a follow up but I did want to answer your question as to why I didn’t buy it before.

    Originally it was cover. description and price.

    The original cover was cool, but very ‘cheesy’ looking. It just wasn’t the type of cover to attract me to make a purchase. The new cover is also very cool, but it looks vastly more professional. It is a major improvement.

    The product description I read on Amazon seemed really stiff and unnatural to me. Maybe it is because each line is a single sentence but it didn’t come off well to me. I also didn’t like the line describing the book as a ‘dime novel’. To me ‘dime novel’ conjures up images of cheap or cheesy writing. That may be what Jason Dark is, but why advertise it? I’d have more inclination to purchase with just a a product description of the story that was mostly paragraphed with maybe a few single sentence lines to add emphasis. I’d have had a neutral (rather than negative) reaction to a word count line that was stated, “Demon’s Night is a 24,500 word novella”.

    My final issue was price. I just don’t think anything less than a novel deserves a price over .99¢. In my mind an ebook is like apps and songs I purchase: usually an impulse buy and relatively low price. Novella’s and short stories (which I purchase many of) need to be .99¢ – $1.29 for me to buy them. $2.99 for a novella is too much imo. The only things I go over $2.99 for are non-fiction that I NEED or something from a series I love like the Dresden Files. Unless I read and really fall in love with Jason Dark it’s unlikely that I’ll purchase any of the $2.99 books unless they’re novel length. Novel length being 50k+ words.

    Not sure if my opinion is commonly felt or it’s just me but that’s my two cents. I’ll post a follow up when I read the story, but until then good luck. I’m sure if you keep writing and changing things up that you’ll eventually hit the right combination to generate sales success.

  11. Maurice X. Alvarez

    Hi, Guido. David Burton had pointed me to your site when I was preparing to publish my first ebook. The information you provided in your “Take Pride” series has been invaluable.

    While I enjoy a good paranormal tale, I’ve never been into horror, unless it’s campy horror like Zombieland, Evil Dead or Sean of the Dead. However, like one of the commentators above, I feel I owe it to you to at least read your work. I have just purchased Demon’s Night and will give it a whirl. I’ll make sure I mention you to my FB and Twitter crowd too. I’m sure there are plenty of folks in my lists that enjoy Horror.

    BTW, love the new covers. I know the look you were going for with the old ones, and nostalgically, they were great! But for the ebook market, I could see how they might not work as well.

    Good luck!

  12. Carlos Cesar

    I’m another one who came here trough Konrath’s blog.

    I like your insights on publishing, so I’m getting them from RSS. The formatting series was superb; as someone already said, tons of good karma.

    I don’t read horror, so I didn’t read your books. I’m not your target. With that caveat, my two cents: first, the original covers were way too cheesy. I realise that was deliberate, but they put me off at first sight. The new ones are a great, great improvement.
    Second, I guess dime novels may be a genre, but describing yours as such takes you off the list of mainstream horror and thriller readers.

    I repeat, I’m not a horror reader, so maybe I’m just writing nonsense.

    Best of luck, tanks for your blog.

    Best wishes,


  13. Eric

    Before I begin let me say that the new cover for the second book looks great.

    Count me in as another one who found you though Konrath’s blog.

    Why haven’t I bought a copy of one of your books? At this point I don’t own a hand held e-reader and I hate reading books off the computer screen.

    So why am I here? Because like many of the others I too am working on a novel and I’m trying to get a handle on the changing world of publishing. I’m trying to learn as much as I can before the novel is finished.

    I do want to thank you for sharing so much information about you on going publishing adventures. I also hope that our feedback has helped you.


  14. Maurice X. Alvarez

    Hi, again, Guido. I read Demon’s Night and enjoyed it. This might come from my inexperience with reading Horror, but as I read it, I felt like I was reading a paranormal version of a Sherlock Holmes story rather than a horror story. This is what really hooked me, because that’s a genre I do enjoy. As such, I added a paranormal tag to the Amazon listing. Feel free to contact me; I want to get your opinion on this before I write a review or any FB mentions/tweets.

  15. Carlos Cesar

    Hello again.

    Guido, you write well and clearly, and know your stuff about self-publishing, format conversion, etc.

    Have you considered writing a “Step-to-step Guide to e-Publishing” or “The e-Publishing Bible”. I bet it would sell rather well.
    At the very least, you’re a known name to the people interested in the subject.

    Best wishes,


  16. Guido

    Eric, that is pretty cool! Thank you so much for preparing that trailer. I’ll have to tweet that… and put it on the Jason Dark Facebook page…

  17. Kaz Augustin

    Hi Guido!

    1) Konrath’s blog

    2) Not a fan of horror BUT having read that your novels are a paranormal version of Victorian England (thanks to all commentators for cluing me in), decided to buy Demon’s Night. AND was told that the title is not available in the “Asia & Pacific” region. 🙁

  18. Guido

    Kaz, where did you try to buy it? The only outlet that has weird territory restrictions is Apple, as far as I can think of. All other outlets have worldwide distribution enabled – or at least should have…

  19. Lauryn Christopher

    Guido –

    Your covers are great, and I’m truly appreciative of your “Take Pride in your eBook Formatting” series of posts that I just discovered. Haven’t bought any of your books because I’m not a horror fan, but I have (and will continue to) recommend you to friends looking for another horror author to follow. Wishing you great success!

  20. Larissa Lyons

    Konrath’s blog (which I discovered, ironically, within 2 days of your post)

    Not a horror fan at all. Don’t read mysteries either. However, as Regency Romance is my favorite genre (both to read & write in) and now that I’ve seen mention of Victorian England and, especially, another commenter mentioning less horror, more paranormal Sherlock Holmes with regards to your stories, I will be HAPPY to give your book a try. (& Buy!)

    Lastly, I agree–the new covers are sensational. And price…it’s super easy to try a new author at .99. I prefer novellas over longer works (even with my favorite NY authors) and think $1.99 not unreasonable for stories in the 20-30K range, and $2.99 okay when stories exceed 35K.

    Best of luck with the changes…I hope they bring you many more readers!

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